Three little things about the Big Ten weekend

With one month remaining in the Big Ten regular season, there is lot at stake in every game, every weekend. This past weekend showed us that little things matter — a lot.

1. One goal makes a B1G difference.

At 3:35 in overtime Friday night, Minnesota’s Casey Mittelstadt scored the only necessary goal in the game between the Golden Gophers and the Fighting Irish. Mittelstadt’s eighth goal of the season was the deciding factor in Minnesota’s 1-0 win over Notre Dame, giving the Gophers their third consecutive win and delivering the second straight shutout loss to the Fighting Irish.

26 Jan 18:  The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers host the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a B1G matchup at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, MN. (Jim Rosvold/USCHO.com)

Notre Dame won 4-1 the following night, but those back-to-back conference losses for the first-place Irish cut their points lead from 14 to 11. While it’s unlikely that anyone will catch Notre Dame, in a league where each game is worth three points, it’s not strictly outside of the realm of possibility.

2. Two wins are a B1G deal.

With 4-0 and 5-3 home wins over Michigan, Ohio State completed a four-game season sweep of the Wolverines, which gives the Buckeyes only their third season sweep of the Wolverines in Ohio State hockey history. The first time was in October of the 1983-1984 season, when the Buckeyes won the only two meetings played that year between the teams. The second was when Ohio State took all four meetings with the Wolverines during the 1985-1986 season.

Keep in mind that from Nov. 24, 1990 to March 11, 1995, the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes 22 consecutive times — and it would be another three years after that before Ohio State would record another win against Michigan.

More than the history between the teams, the sweep earned the Buckeyes six conference points when everyone else who played was divvying things up. Ohio State entered and exited the weekend in second place, but now the Buckeyes are six points ahead of third-place Wisconsin.

3. Three goals in two B1G third periods.

In addition to Notre Dame and Minnesota splitting, Wisconsin beat visiting Penn State 4-2 Friday before the teams skated to a 4-4 tie Saturday. The Badgers earned the extra shootout point after the tie as well, giving Wisconsin five points on the weekend.

The Badgers also scored three goals in the third period of each game, coming from behind each night. Six different Wisconsin players were responsible for those third-period goals, too.

Two points now separate third-place Wisconsin from sixth-place Minnesota: Wisconsin has 25 points, six behind Ohio State; Michigan and Penn State are tied with 24 points each; Minnesota has 23 points, which is a dozen more than last-place Michigan State currently has.

This sets up an interesting series this coming weekend between the Badgers and Wolverines in Ann Arbor, especially since Notre Dame travels to Penn State, the Buckeyes host the Spartans, and Minnesota has a bye week.

[Note: A big — no pun intended — thanks to my buddy Jeff Svoboda for fact-checking my Ohio State hockey history. Jeff’s the sports editor for the Toledo Blade. You should follow him on Twitter @JeffSvoboda because he knows things.]

51 COMMENTS

  1. Assuming the NCHC follows through on their plan of having member schools play each other three times, two home games for one school and one home game for the other school, Western Ontario is doing this weekend what many NCHC schools will do in the future, playing one night in Kalamazoo and the next night in Oxford. That could be a travel challenge on a winter weekend.

  2. SLU (23) and Colgate (29) would need quite a run and a fair amount of help to earn an auto-bid.

    I think you meant “at-large bid”.

  3. RPI and Union beating Cornell? Don’t think so.
    The BigRed has been in playoff mode for 2 weeks now- they know they have to win every night from here on out.

  4. With so many ECAC /Hockey East matchups all season, these matchups aren’t that attractive to me. What if there are more good teams from the west, and they get eliminated, due to regional matchups? Same for the east… A team shouldn’t be punished for being from a certain region, by playing someone else only because they’re from the same area

      • Most definitely. I see some shifting going on, maybe ND moving up, I doubt MN will move down all that far, even with a few losses. But the NC$$ just loves to have us in the same regional and they would love it even better now that its not an intraconference matchup in the first round.

  5. Minnesota and North Dakota WILL play in the West Regional. Minnesota could lose their #1 seed and they still will do everything possible to put the two largest fan bases together.

    • Yeah they may keep UND and MN together but they shouldn’t. UND will travel to pretty much any of the locations so they should just keep the bracket as it should be and stop moving team for “attendance”. St Paul will sell out regardless would be my guess.

  6. That’s a real nice Worcester bracket. BC-North Dakota is a ‘lick-your-chops’ game. I’m there, with bells on. Obviously this won’t be the final mix, but it looks good from here.

  7. Farley proceeded to fall over after being tied up by rau and lay motionless for 5 minutes. He then got up and scored on his first shift of a 5 minute power play that he created through his theatrics.

  8. Your “Interesting…” section is all messed up. Wisconsin and Minnesota aren’t in the same regional, and Michigan isn’t in Ohio. Not sure what you’re talking about there, but it’s certainly interesting….

  9. One slight nit pick. In terms of rankings, it seems the Midwest is a little soft (36 places in seedings) while the Northeast (32) is a little strong after the St Cloud / Lowell swap. Is Michigan such a draw in Cincinnati that a Cornell / Michigan swap would not make sense? Cornell travels well, and that kind of equalizes the strength of each regional at 34. It weakens Worcester, but with both UML and BC there, you have a draw for each 1st round game and odds are at least one of the high seeds advances.

    Really like 3 of the regions for keeping locals close

    • Your not going to have to worry about Michigan, they are going to drop out of the top 16. They have 3 more games against Minnesota and the pressure is going to build on there freshman goalie

  10. You don’t need to worry about attendance in St. Paul with Wisconsin and Minnesota, so send Minnesota Duluth elsewhere so you protect from a #13 seed in state rival.

    • Are you stupid? UMD draws 10x better than Wisconsin does. Need proof? Check out the replay of the 2011 NCAA Championship game…Where was that game? OHHH St.Paul 150 miles down the road. Jesus christ.

  11. 218hockey seems like a real hater. Dude needs to relax. Gophers facing a scary pod if UMD and Wisconsin are in it. Those 3 schools always play each other tough, no matter the rankings or location. And as much as I like Vermont, I’d love to see them drop out and be replaced by North Dakota. Imagine that group!! Minnesota-Wisconsin-UMD-North Dakota. I can dream.

  12. Minnesota is the Alabama of college hockey. Sixth place in the B1G, yet they stay ranked well ahead of Wisconsin and Penn State, not to mention an overrated 12th.

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