Good evening, everyone. Six of the seven Big Ten teams were in official action this weekend in three conference series. Michigan played an exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team. Here’s how the weekend’s games ended.
- Notre Dame swept Michigan State on the road
- Minnesota and Wisconsin split a series in Minneapolis
- Penn State took five of the six conference points up for grabs at Ohio State
And here are my three thoughts from the weekend:
1. Another weekend, another sweep for Notre Dame
Two wins and two great defensive-efforts are almost becoming routine for Notre Dame. After giving up a late first-period goal to fall behind to Michigan State on Friday night, the Irish scored two goals in the second period and once in the third to win 3-1 and followed that up by shutting out MSU 2-0 on Saturday.
The sweep also put Notre Dame’s conference record at 8-0. Obviously, titles aren’t won in early December, but the Irish have put themselves in a very good spot as of now. Notre Dame has a nine point lead over second-place Penn State and 10-point lead over third-place Minnesota and the Gophers and Nittany Lions have played two more conference games each.
The Irish have now won 11 games in a row. They will wrap up the first half of the season next weekend by traveling to Wisconsin.
“We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve had some breaks and, frankly, we’ve won games based on our goaltending,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said of the winning streak. “I don’t want [us] to win games; I want to play a total game. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
2. Minnesota and Wisconsin played two entertaining games
A four-goal second period propelled Minnesota to a 5-4 victory over Wisconsin on Friday night. The Gophers entered the middle period down 2-1 but scored four times in a 10-minute span to take a 5-2 lead and chased Kyle Hayton from the goal in the process. Wisconsin scored once before the second period was over and once in the third but couldn’t get the game-tying goal, despite putting 39 shots on target.
Jack Berry, who replace Hayton on Friday, got the start on Saturday and was very good. He stopped 40 shots and the Badgers won 3-2. It’ll be interesting to see if Berry gets a few more opportunities in the future. He’s played well when he has seen the ice this season and has a 3-1 record and 1.94 GAA. Shutting down the Gophers on their home ice is certainly an accomplishment.
3. Next weekend is shaping up nicely
Next weekend we get a red-hot Notre Dame squad traveling to face Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State playing a home-and-home series and Minnesota traveling to Ohio State. Considering how the Buckeyes fared this weekend I’m sure they’ll be looking to right the ship at home. Penn State also plays a nonconference home-and-home series with Robert Morris. After that all Big Ten teams will take a break from official games until after Christmas.