It was quite a weekend for B1G hockey. After sweeping Penn State, Notre Dame is 4-0-0 in conference play and at the top of the conference standings, which is itself noteworthy. Here are the other things that I take away from the weekend.
1. Six goals should be enough to win a game.
No. 6 Minnesota went to Ann Arbor and scored 10 goals in two games and came away with two points to show for the effort. After leading 3-0 in the middle of the second period Friday, the Gophers saw their lead cut to one goal by the end of the stanza. Then they took the lead again in the third only to see Michigan tie the game and win in overtime, 5-4, on a power-play goal. After that contest, coach Don Lucia said that four goals is enough to win a game — so Saturday’s 6-6 tie must have been particularly frustrating. Within a five-minute span in the second period Saturday, both teams combined for a total of five goals and the Gophers had a 6-3 lead early in the third period before Michigan again came back, this time scoring three goals between 13:03 and 18:48. Rem Pitlick and Tyler Sheehy scored for Minnesota in the shootout, giving the Golden Gophers an extra point that took 130 minutes to earn. Unranked Michigan, on the other side, scored 11 goals on the weekend and earned four points.
2. Cale Morris and John Lethemon earn B1G shutouts.
In No. 6 Notre Dame’s sweep of the visiting No. 19 Nittany Lions, sophomore Fighting Irish goaltender Cale Morris made a total of 73 saves in two games, including 33 in Saturday’s 1-0 shutout, the second of his career. In East Lansing, Michigan State sophomore John Lethemon had 49 saves in a weekend split with No. 7 Wisconsin, but 38 of those came in Saturday’s 2-0 shutout of the Badgers, his second of the season and third of his career. Both goaltenders fought against teams that threw pucks at them from everywhere on the ice. Impressive.
3. The Big Ten is 7-0-1 against Hockey East.
The Buckeyes were less than five minutes away from a road sweep of Connecticut when Jesse Schwartz scored for the Huskies at 16:41 to tie Saturday’s game 1-1. Buckeye senior goaltender Sean Romeo earned his keep in overtime, making six saves to keep the score even. In Friday’s 5-4 win, freshman Tommy Nappier earned his first collegiate win with 35 saves. The win and tie keep the Big Ten undefeated against Hockey East, which seems like something of a minor miracle to me. Overall, the Big Ten is 29-15-5 in nonconference play, with a win percentage of .643. That puts B1G hockey second to the NCHC (.673) in nonconference play — which also seems like something of a minor miracle to me.