It’s New Year’s Eve, a few hours before midnight, and I’m watching my Buffalo Bills’ chances for making the playoffs for the first time in a generation slip away — and I realize suddenly that we’ve returned to blogging and columns this week and it’s my turn.
1. It was a good weekend for the Buckeyes and Gophers.
Both Ohio State and Minnesota needed the sweeps they earned to kick off the second half of the season. The Buckeyes ended their first half with a sweep of Minnesota, so both teams had something at stake: Ohio State wanted to keep the momentum going and Minnesota needed something positive moving forward.
It was Tanner Laczynski with six seconds left in regulation Friday to give Ohio State the 3-2 win over Niagara and OSU went on to win 4-1 Saturday. Freshman goaltender Tom Nappier earned his second win of the season Saturday.
Minnesota beat Army West Point 3-0 and 4-1, with sophomore goaltender Mat Robson earning his first career win Saturday. With that win, Don Lucia also became the first coach in Gopher hockey history to reach the 450-win mark.
2. Who’s going to beat Notre Dame?
The Fighting Irish enter the second half with a record of 10-0-0 in B1G hockey and start the second half with a home-and-home, Friday-Sunday series against Michigan this coming weekend. With 30 points, Notre Dame is 14 points ahead of second-place Ohio State. In a league where each game is worth three points and with half a season of hockey left to play, the Irish are catchable, but if Cale Morris (.954 SV%, 1.53 GAA) continues as he has in net, it’s doubtful that anyone will. Goaltending has been the weakest link for B1G teams in the past two seasons. A team with a top netminder may be unstoppable in the coming months.
3. The GLI at LCA.
This is the third time I’m actually complaining about this in print — or pixels, to be fair — but the Jan. 1-2 dates for the Great Lakes Invitational at Little Caesars Arena is just the worst. Not only is it New Year’s Day and the day after, a Monday and a Tuesday, but the competition for attention from the local football-loving populace will be fierce. No one is carrying the games on television, not even locally. I’m going the second night, so I’ll be tweeting out (@paulacweston) through both games. I expect some good hockey to be played in front of very few people, in a really pretty new arena.