Greetings from a frigid Southern Minnesota, a state that everyone now knows is cold in February thanks to all the Super Bowl coverage. Six of the seven Big Ten teams were in action against each other this weekend with Minnesota taking the weekend off. Here’s how things turned out:
- Ohio State and Michigan State split a series at OSU
- Notre Dame took five of six conference points from Penn State
- Wisconsin and Michigan split their series at Michigan
And without further ado, here are my three thoughts from the weekend:
1. Notre Dame continues to find a way to get results
Notre Dame didn’t necessary dominate every team during its impressive winning streak, but the Irish just seemed to always find a way to win. That streak is now over, but the knack to grind out good results through defense and goaltending remains.
Penn State held a 2-0 lead after one period on Friday night, but the Irish responded by scoring the first two goals of the second. The Nittany Lions regained the lead in the middle period, but Notre Dame tied the game again before the period was over and scored the only two goals of the third period to pick up the 5-3 win.
It was Penn State’s turn to come from behind on Saturday. The Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Liam Folkes tied the game two minutes into the second period. From that point on it was all about the goaltenders. Cale Morris ended up with 55 saves, including a stopped penalty shot in overtime, and Peyton Jones had 35 saves for Penn State. The Irish picked up the extra conference point after the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Morris saw 108 shots from Penn State over the two games, so only giving up five goals was quite the accomplishment.
2. Michigan State spoils Ohio State’s sweep attempt
In my eyes, the most surprising result of the weekend was Michigan State’s offense coming to life on Saturday and picking up a 6-3 win over Ohio State to earn a series split.
I would have assume that if the Spartans picked up a win it would have been a low-scoring game. Six different Michigan State players scored on Saturday and the Spartans held a 5-1 lead late in the second period. Ohio State managed two goals in the third to make it close, but Logan Lambdin’s empty-net goal put the game to bed.
3. The middle of the conference standings is tight
After picking up five points this weekend, Notre Dame now has a 13-point lead over Ohio State. I’d say it’s pretty safe to call the Irish the champions-elect for this season, but the middle of the conference standings could be interesting coming down the stretch.
Ohio State has 34 points and is six points clear of third-place Wisconsin. Michigan is only one point behind the Badgers in fourth place Penn State is two points behind them. Minnesota is two points behind the Nittany Lions with 23 points and Michigan State is in the cellar with 14 points.
Even with the champion all but decided, grabbing a top-four spot and hosting the first round of the Big Ten Tournament should provide plenty of motivation and give us some exciting games during the final month of the season.