A conference split, a tough home series and a successful trip East

Before I get into the three big takeaways from this weekend of B1G hockey, congratulations to Danton Cole for his first win as Michigan State’s new head coach. The Spartans beat visiting Bowling Green, 3-2, Saturday night. It was good to see a game reminiscent of old-school CCHA play in nearly every way, and I’ll have more on that in this week’s column.

1. First, there are four teams tied at the top of the Big Ten standings.

That’s only because we’ve had two conference series and each resulted in a split. Ohio State and Wisconsin swapped wins a weekend ago, and Penn State and Minnesota did the same thing in Minneapolis Friday and Sunday. The Nittany Lions beat the Golden Gophers Friday night, 3-1, after leading 3-0 heading into the third. Penn State scored two power-play goals three-and-a-half minutes apart in the second. Denis Smirnov had the first power-play goal, his second goal of the season which, coincidentally, was his second game-winning goal of the season.

In Minnesota’s 6-3 win Sunday, freshman forward Brannon McManus made his scoring debut in a big way: his first collegiate goal was the game winner at 1:43 in the third and was the first of three he scored in the final period, giving him his first collegiate hat trick in his third game as a Golden Gopher. Two of Penn State’s three goals in that loss were on the power play, so we know what Minnesota will focus on in practice this week.

2. Second, Notre Dame and Denver showed us what top teams look like when they face off.

The Pioneers and Fighting Irish tied 2-2 Friday and Saturday’s game was tied 2-2 again until the final five minutes of regulation, when Denver scored two to come away with a 4-2 road win. All of it was televised by NBC Sports, and that is good news for college hockey everywhere.

In the tie, the teams exchanged goals 15 seconds apart in the first period before scoring power-play goals less than two minutes apart in the third. Freshman Dylan St. Cyr made 46 saves through 65 minutes of play.

In Denver’s win, Jordan Gross tied the game for Notre Dame on a power play at 15:08 in the third, but Liam Finlay answered for the Pioneers 24 seconds later. Sophomore Cale Morris stopped 30 in that loss.

3. Third, Wisconsin had a nice trip to Massachusetts.

Five different Badgers scored in Wisconsin’s 5-2 win over Boston College Friday, a game that never seemed to be in question. Wisconsin followed that with a 4-1 win over Merrimack — and a second period in which the Badgers scored three goals within a span of 39 seconds.

With the game tied 1-1 in the second period Saturday, Seamus Malone scored the game-winning goal on the power play at 12:01, followed by Max Zimmer’s goal at 12:15 and Ryan Wagner’s goal at 12:40. Malone is the only Badger to register two goals for the weekend. Senior Kyle Hayton had both wins for Wisconsin.


  1. Lawson is at a sellout, standing room only, packed house in college hockey can make a difference. I’m not saying with a 100% confidence a win either night either as UMD is best in the country and the Broncs still need to fully prove themselves…however I think (hope) a split is in order.

  2. Michigan team that looked as though its sub-par first half ”

    No, Paula, is your memory THAT short? The first half of the first half, AKA October, Michigan was virtually unbeatable and reached #2 in the polls. Then came Halloween and they won something like one game from then until the trip to Fairbanks. 

    • Given that the Wolverines finished the first half of the season under .500 in CCHA play, I’d say that’s a sub-par first half.  At the midway point of the season, how Michigan played in October no longer mattered. 

  3. The ND-Denver games were great, seemed like March hockey, two very good teams. NBC televises Notre Dame hockey, as they do football.

  4. ” All of it was televised by NBC Sports, and that is good news for college hockey everywhere.”

    Why are games being televised good news for college hockey? Perhaps you could say, as I do, that television coverage validates any event, including a college hockey game. If, for instance, a tornado touchdown or an airplane crash or bank robbery aren’t covered by television they’re simply not very important. Television seems to be the index of importance in the post-modern world. An untelevised hockey game isn’t really happening,

    But I’ll also say that television coverage of college hockey has destroyed the live gate, not only at venues like vaunted 3M @ Mariucci Arena and the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, but also at games for Division III teams, where “crowds” of less than 200 are common. Broadcast of major college games is also poison for US junior contests in many markets.

    I mentioned to the manager of a DI hockey rink that their crowds were much bigger back in the early ’90s. What happened? His response: “HDTV”.

    • Television is not “destroying the live gate” at college hockey rinks, as your “expert” manager of a D1 hockey rink told you. Television helps spur interest in college hockey, a very good thing. NBCSN and CBSSN are actually helping attendance. Suggest you actually check the facts before spreading “fake news”. Last year a very large majority of “major” programs filled close to, or more, than 90% of their capacity, including Mariucci at 95.9% and Pegula at 4% over capacity. There are two major factors why the arenas don’t appear to have as large crowds in the 90’s. First, the rinks were much smaller back then. Not hard to fill a 2,400 seat arena, much more difficult for a 6,000-15,000 one. Second, many college hockey cities are now competing against other sports, concerts, and other forms of entertainment. By the way, how many tornado touchdowns, airplane crashes or bank robberies are not covered by television. You forgot to mention Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the California fires that were not covered by television.
      I welcome your response.

      • Mariucci’s attendance figures are the definition of “fake news”. They haven’t come close to a full house in years. I’m an eye witness. Sunday afternoon the band didn’t even show up. The Herb Brooks has had about the same capacity since its construction but seldom draws anywhere near what it once did.

        At one time the pro bowlers tour was a sports staple on television. Not anymore. The viewers didn’t lurch off the couch and waddle down to the local alley, either. What happened there?

        • To be fair, the Gopher band was still drying out it’s underwear from Saturday night’s football game. Go Green (at least for football)…

        • UMTC and St.Cloud live gates may indeed be affected by TV coverage. They may also be affected by poor play, removal of major rivalries (Hi, B1G/NCHC!), and a few other factors.
          Oh, and I saw a bit of the StC/Alaska game over the weekend. If the whole game is covered as poorly as the between periods intermissions, well… let’s just say that StC’s TV coverage is probably one of the best reasons I know for taking in the game live…

          P.S. Fun fact: For years, certain NHL teams (Hi, Chicago!) refused to televise home games because they feared an effect on the live gate. Turned out not to be a problem – of course, that’s also about the time Toews and Kane showed up. Other teams (Toronto comes to mind) resisted putting player names on the backs of their player’s sweaters, because they said it’d hurt program sales. The NHL said “Do It”, the Leafs responded by putting the names on, using white letters on the white sweaters. Everyone laughed except the NHL. One big fine later, the Leafs caved.

          • One last thing – I can get a beer at home, and I cannot at most college venues, although that seems to be changing. Notre Dame has a bar/restaurant, but you’ve got to be a muckity-muck donor to get in. Michigan Tech served adult beverages in the suite I was in last year, and they had a bar that appeared to be open to the public in one end zone, but I wasn’t able to test that. Popcorn’s usually better at the rink, hot dogs/brats, not so much.

          • Joe: I’m thirsty. How about a low-quality but expensive beer?
            Jack: OK! Let’s go to a hockey game!
            Joe: I’m hungry, too.
            Jack: We can take care of that as well. Want a $7 hot dog to go with that $6 beer? The puck drops for the Blues game in half an hour.

          • You forgot about the $100 and up tickets. And the $50 parking.
            At least the Blues can occasionally be entertaining, which is why I’ll occasionally watch them on TV, usually when they play the Red Wings (which isn’t very often any more…).

          • Most of the crowd at a Hawks game or any other NHL test couldn’t explain the icing rule. They’re there to join a big building full of people with the same wish, being a part of an event that doesn’t have a predetermined result but will hopefully end in a synthetic “victory”. The exploits of the greatest athletes in sports are a small part of the affair.

          • So, by *your* logic, *everyone* at a college game *can* explain the icing rule? They’re *not* at a college game to join a big building (Arizona State’s crib notwithstanding, but 3M (Seriously, 3M? Now *that’s* funny) arena’s pretty big) full of people (or sort of full, since bad teams generally don’t draw well) with the same wish, being a part of a predetermined result but will hopefully end in synthetic “victory”?

            Yeah, no.

      • “Television helps spur interest in college hockey,”
        How do you know this? If that’s indeed the case, maybe television also, on the basis of its programming, spurs interest in murder. Do you suppose that murders on television encourage the same on the streets?

        • You have a real social problem, stay away from crowds. It appears you have limited options in your sad life. You either need to unplug your television, watch different stations, become a loner like Ted Kaczynski, or change your therapist. My fault for not figuring out you are a Gopher fan, this explains your attitude.

          • No, people that don’t agree with my simplistic and erroneous statements do not have a “social problem”. You, however, certainly do.

  5. And now, for something completely different…

    Is the Great Lakes Invitational tournament officially kaput, and if so were there any reasons given? I was kind of looking forward to getting a look at the new building in Detroit…

    • Yep. The Red Wings usually play on New Year’s Eve, so GLI usually fit between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30. I don’t remember GLI ever being outside of that time frame, simply because the colleges usually all resume play the first weekend of January. But then again, LCA’s schedule for that period is pretty much full (see schedule above).
      Funny that right now GLI isn’t on anyone’s schedule except for Tech & BG. I wonder how much discussion went on over whether or not to cancel the tournament altogether?


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