A weekend of ups and downs, and a conference split

Hello everyone, welcome to the 2017-18 season!

Six of the seven Big Ten teams were in action this weekend, with Michigan State playing an exhibition game. Here is how the games played out:

  • Ohio State and Wisconsin split their series at Wisconsin. The Buckeyes won 3-2 on Friday and the Badgers rebounded with a 3-2 win of their own on Saturday afternoon.
  • Minnesota dropped Friday’s game against Minnesota-Duluth 4-3 in overtime and came back to defeat Union 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Ice Breaker in Duluth, Minn.
  • Notre Dame swept Alabama-Huntsville at home.
  • Michigan defeated St. Lawrence 3-1 on Friday night and fell 3-0 at Clarkson on Saturday.
  • Penn State dropped its game against Clarkson 2-1 on Friday night and defeated St. Lawrence 4-1 on Saturday.

Without any more delay, here’s my three thoughts from the weekend:

1. Conference games make it seem like Christmas in October

For four years we have had to more or less wait until December, or basically Christmas according to my witty subtitle, to see two Big Ten teams face off. With the addition of a seventh team we were gifted with a conference series on the first full weekend of the season, and it was a good one.

The Badgers had the advantage of playing a real game the weekend before, but it was Ohio State that came out victorious on Friday night thanks to two third-period goals. Mason Jobst had two goals and junior transfer Sean Romeo made 18 saves to gain his first win for Ohio State.

The Badgers scored the first three goals of Saturday’s contest, but the Buckeyes made it interesting by scoring two quick goals shortly after the midway point of the third period.

Both games featured relatively low shot counts from both teams. Wisconsin had 20 shots on goal Friday and 25 on Saturday. Ohio State had 24 on Friday and 18 on Saturday.

Week two of the season will also feature a conference series when Penn State travels to Minnesota for a Friday/Sunday series.

2. Minnesota falls to Minnesota-Duluth, again

Disappointment after playing their rival up Interstate 35 is becoming a certainty on par with death and taxes for Gophers fans. OK, it may not be that bad but after Friday night’s overtime defeat the Bulldogs have dropped Minnesota eight times in a row.

UMD’s Parker Mackay scored from behind the goal line less than two minutes into overtime to give the Bulldogs the victory on Friday. The puck he slid behind Eric Shierhorn didn’t even come close to hitting the back of the net, but after a review it was clear that it did cross the line.

The game was back-and-forth, with Duluth scoring the only goal of the first, Minnesota lighting the lamp twice in the second and both taking turns scoring in the third.

Don Lucia said he though his older players struggled on Friday, which could be concerning for Minnesota since that area was supposed to be a strength for the team.

3. Penn State and Michigan struggle against Clarkson, triumph over St. Lawrence

I do not claim to be an ECAC expert, but it was surprising to see Clarkson take down Penn State and Michigan. The (original) Golden Knights scored once in the first and once in the second on Friday night and made that lead stick against the Nittany Lions. Goaltender Jake Kielly made 38 saves in the game, including 16 in the third period.

Kielly stood tall again on Saturday when he pitched a 29-save shutout against the Wolverines.

Clarkson will get an opportunity to continue its success over the Big Ten when it travels to Minnesota at the end of the month.