Splits, a sweep and paradigm shifts

To say that the results from B1G hockey this weekend were surprising would be a bit of an understatement — unless you’re Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan.

1. Two B1G splits.

The Spartans went to Madison and came away with three points after beating Wisconsin 2-0 Friday night before losing 5-2 Saturday. After a shaky start to the second half of the season — after such a promising first half — Michigan State sophomore John Lethemon made 30 saves in his fourth shutout of the season, the fifth of his career. The Friday win gives the Spartans their third conference victory of the season, but Michigan State is still in last place.

That loss, though, cost Wisconsin a chance to move up in the standings, given the other activity of the weekend. Now with the split, the Badgers are in fifth place with 17 points, a point behind Michigan.

The Buckeyes went to State College and came away with three points after first losing to Penn State 5-2 Friday before beating the Nittany Lions 5-1 the following night. Each team ended the other’s streak; Ohio State saw its six-game win streak snap on Friday, and the Nittany Lions saw their 11-game unbeaten streak stopped Saturday. Ohio State freshman goaltender Tommy Nappier made 30 saves when he won his first Big Ten start. He also stopped a penalty shot in the contest. Uncharacteristically, the Buckeyes outshot the Nittany Lions 42-31 in the contest.

More importantly, the split kept each team where it was in the standings at the start of the weekend. The Buckeyes were ahead of Penn State by two points entering the weekend, with Ohio State in second and Penn State in third. That hasn’t changed, and now the Nittany Lions are still chasing the Buckeyes and the teams are done playing each other for the season.

Of course, everyone’s chasing Notre Dame, but that’s another story.

2. A B1G sweep.

The Wolverines went to Minneapolis and came away with six points — something that hasn’t happened since Michigan last swept Minnesota on the road in 1977. The six points catapulted Michigan from sixth to fourth in conference standings, something that if the Wolverines can maintain would mean home ice in the Big Ten playoffs.

Michigan won by getting off to fast starts in both games; the Wolverines outscored the Golden Gophers 5-1 collectively in the first period for the weekend. Junior Brendan Warren scored three of his six total goals of the season against the Gophers. Sophomore Hayden Lavigne picked up his fifth and sixth wins of the season, stopping 41 in the process.

The losses give Minnesota a 4-9-1-1 conference record and drop the Gophers to sixth place in the league, three points ahead of last-place Michigan State. It’s the first time Minnesota has been swept at home since St. Cloud State beat them Nov. 27 and Nov. 29, 2015.

3. A B1G paradigm shift.

More than anything, the weekend’s results were a lesson in how quickly things can change when each game is worth three points. No one expected Michigan to sweep Minnesota — except, perhaps, for the Wolverines themselves — and those six points among the bottom six teams of the conference created a huge shift in dynamics.

Notre Dame still sits atop of the league standings with 36 points, undefeated in Big Ten play. There are now only two other teams in the league with winning conference records. Second-place Ohio State (8-5-1-0) has 25 points, followed by third-place Penn State (6-5-3-2) with 23 points. Fourth-place Michigan (5-7-2-1) has 18 points, followed by Wisconsin (5-7-2-0) with 17, Minnesota (4-9-1-1) with 14 and Michigan State (3-10-1-1) with 11. It is statistically possible but highly unlikely for anyone to catch Notre Dame, given the way Cale Morris and the rest of the Irish are playing.

Going into the weekend, we knew the rest of it was up for grabs — more or less — but few of us thought that someone near the bottom could be vying for home ice in the first round, or that Minnesota would be three points out of last place and fighting for NCAA postseason life, now tied for 15th in the PairWise.

What a weekend.


    • why do you follow her blog?if she is so bad.Just to complain,that’s why.who should she pick?sounds like she is going with the favorites,which is what most writers and bloggers do.

  1. No way!  Paula picked against WMU (reasonable considering the opponent) and for Michigan (unreasonable considering same opponent).  Geez I wish there were more sources to read about the CCHA.

  2. WOW Paula picked U of M….who would have thought. Pretty sure that U of M didn’t even need to make it to the Joe to win the CCHA, I think thats what I get out of these columns 

  3. “Undefined magic”=the fact that we send more fans, students, and alumni there more than any other school.

    24 straight trips to the Joe, and we don’t lose at Yost East.  GO BLUE!

    • ‘the fact that we send more fans, students, and alumni there more than any other school.’ 
      The fact that you can combine ND, LSSU, Alaska, FSU, and NMU just to reach Michigan’s enrollment has nothing to do with that, of course. 

      Good thing UM and MSU have such travel headaches getting to the Joe as well. Sometimes, traffic can make it a 1:15 minute drive from AA. 

    • Haha that’s funny. WMU fans outnumbered U of M at last season’s semi-final game by more than 2 to 1. I’m not talking about the any of the neutral crowd that may have been cheering for WMU either. This was actual brown and gold clad students and alumni, because unlike U of M our fans actual attended the university.

      • WOW,check out the attendence for the semi final game between miami and western.I see more maize in the crowd and empty seats.Do your fans only show up for the finals?

        • Interesting, the game I was at had at least 6 sections completely full of WMU fans yet U of M would have been lucky to fill 2 sections if you gathered up their sparsely scattered support and put them together.

          Also I would like to send out a kudos to the WMU athletic department for recognizing the need for reserving a party room for WMU in the Olympia Club to be able to accommodate all the fans. It was a great time down there before the game.

          • Your including all the maize that was present for the miami/wmu game.Sure was a bunch of it.Overall the attendence sucked when you compare it to the wcha and hockey east.Saturday should be better.

    • Yo GC,don’t waste your time.Miami and wmu fans are always right.I was at the Joe last year and the 2 to 1 fans ratio,it’s all the other schools cheering against Michigan.They won’t admit it,but it’s true.When you win and have as much success that Michigan has,your going to have haters.And everyone knows MICHIGAN and Michigan State are the 2 biggest and 2 best in the state,IN ALL WAYS,not just sports.GO BLUE!

  4. Paula picking Michigan again? What a shocker. Why even bother re-writing these each year? Just change the dateline and re-post every single one you’ve written for the Joe.

  5. If a Miami player doesn’t win the award,he got robbed.That’s the story(always).Did the Miami coach(not sure how to spell his name)get robbed for not winning coach of the year in the ccha?Keep up your campaign maiami fans,it might help in the future.Way tooooooooooooooo much whinning>

    • Oh, you mean the Miami player that led the entire league in scoring? Or maybe the same Miami player who, head-to-head against the crowned POTY, led his team to a 4-0 record and notched 2 G and 4 A in those four games. 

      But you’re completely right. It’s sheer whining. :eye roll:

      • Smith as player of the year?Knapp goalie of the year?Any defensive players that should get an award?I wanted to contact the ncaa and let them know what they are doing wrong.It’s pretty clear,if miami doesn’t get the award nobody should.GO BLUE! 

        • Lol Smith was second in the nation in goals, and leading the nation in GWG. Krug on the other hand, is good, but may I remind you…he was -3, with 1 G over the weekend. Smith on the other hand…4 A, 1G. 

          Yeah…Krug totally dominates. And Knapp was goalie of the year…so no need to contact the NCAA about that one.

  6. Last year Michigan didn’t take the broncos seriously and they lost 5-2. I can only hope Miami does the same. Much as I’d like to see BG do well, I don’t want to see them get the AQ bid since that would likely boot WMU or MSU from the tourney. (I don’t see Northern making it either way, sorry.)


    • WMU blows by miami, and Michigan squeaks by Bowling Green. Not to discredit Bowling green at all, but the final might be a more interesting game than you think.  

      • It might be interesting, but I doubt it will be better. 2 OT’s is a heck of a game. BG and Michigan are both going to be tired today though. 3 MAC schools and one Big Ten school in the CCHA Finals with 2 Big Ten schools not making it. Maybe the MAC needs to start their own hockey conference?

  7. Congrats to Western, heck of a game.  And oh how I love to see Miami eat crow.  Looking forward to a great final tomorrow!

  8. The Broncos had their lineup ready tonight…once again as I suggested ..containing Smith was the key…just what ..one goal…too many WMU players can score..I expect a closer game tomorrow…probably within a goal or two.. but getting that Miami monkey/redhawk off their back must feel awfullly good going into the game on Saturday…

    Go Broncos..time to clinch the CCHA and get ready for the tournament

  9. Please send out a all police bulletin.MIAMIU2010 is missing.He is probably in hiding,but please let’s find him.OHIO TEAMS,DONE.

  10. Why is it taking you so long to acknowledge Western Michigan’s impressive postseason run Paula? I’m sure if Michigan had won, you would’ve written a lengthy blog entry by now.

  11. Always has seemed like a strange scenario to me whether it is hock
    ey or basketball that the regular season championship over 15-20 games isn’t worth as much as a 4 or 5 game tournament.

      • Six BiG teams are in the Top 20 in the current Pairwise too. But you’re entitled to your opinion (biased and misguided as it may be).

        • Only thing that matters is probably top 14 in pairwise. Poll is worthless. Atlantic hockey will more than likely only get 1 team in, as their highest pairwise ranked team is in 28th. WCHA gets 1 in, possibly 2, Kato is in a good spot for at large, and have to believe they’ll win the conference tourney, but BG could snag the auto bid. So it doesn’t matter that 6 from the chump 7 are in the top 20…..as of now, two of those, if not three, wouldn’t be making the tourney. But if you want to go for the slow clap on having the 20th pairwise position, you go girl.

          • All I am saying is that there are 60 Div. 1 teams and 6 of the 7 B1G teams are currently in the Top 20. That is a marked improvement over their performance in the past.

          • So … as a realist … would you agree that although the NCHC is arguably the dominant league, the B1G is performing better as a whole than it has in recent years?

          • It’s obvious, but by this time of year, it is time to really start looking at the cutoff line for making the tourney.

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