Michigan State was the only Big Ten team to sit out the first weekend of Division I play.
1. Big Ten teams were either scoring a lot — or allowing a lot of goals.
Going back to Thursday’s Boston College-Michigan game, the Big Ten went 7-2-0 in the first weekend of nonconference play. In the seven wins, BTHC teams outscored opponents 29-11; in four of those seven wins, the margin of victory was three or more goals. Michigan led the league with 10 goals in two games, one more than what Minnesota scored.
The only winning team to trail all weekend was Minnesota, who was down 1-0 and then 2-1 against New Hampshire in the title game of the IceBreaker Tournament. The final was 3-2, and all the scoring was done in the second period.
“It’s a game of surges,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “They scored and we surge right back to tie it up.”
The flip side of the first weekend of play is that the two Big Ten losses belong to a single team, Ohio State, and they weren’t pretty at all. The Buckeyes were swept by Miami in a home-and-home series, and outscored 12-5 in those contests.
2. It’s a good thing they signed these guys.
Three freshmen scored game-winning goals for three different Big Ten teams, in three games that easily could have gone the other way.
Wisconsin forward Grant Besse had a goal in each game in the Badgers’ series against visiting Northern Michigan. Besse had the final goal early in the third period of Friday’s 5-2 win, and with the score tied late in the third of the 2-1 Saturday game, Besse netted his second goal of the weekend on an odd-man rush.
“It’s 1-1, we need to get that goal, and he has that innate ability,” said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. With the sweep, the Badgers have their first 2-0 start since 2004.
Five minutes after junior Sam Warning tied the game for Minnesota in the second period against New Hampshire Saturday, forward Vinni Lettieri scored his first collegiate goal to put the Gophers ahead 3-2.
Michigan forward Evan Allen scored a clutch goal late in the second period of the Wolverines’ 7-4 Saturday road win over the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Wolverines took a 4-0 lead into the second period of that game and the Tigers scored four unanswered goals in a 10-minute span to tie the game. With 56 seconds left in the period, Allen shot from the right circle and scored.
In all, eight rookies scored nine goals for Big Ten teams this weekend. Minnesota’s Hudson Fasching led all league rookies with a goal and two assists.
3. It’s impossible to speak of rookies without speaking of penalties.
Well, at least when it comes to the Wolverines. That second period against RIT was remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which is that three of the Tigers’ goals involved special teams. “We took penalties,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We were on the wrong side of the puck. We weren’t playing as hard and smart and as defensive as we should have. And our penalty killing struggled with their power plays.”
In two games total, the Michigan rookie class has earned 16 penalty minutes, all by itself.
Two additional kudos.
Congratulations to the Nittany Lions on their first win in Pegula Ice Arena, the 4-1 victory over Army Friday night.
Belated congratulations to Don Lucia, who ran the Twin Cities Marathon Oct. 6 with a time of 3:55:20 — which is good, in case you’re wondering — to raise money for Defending the Blue Line, a charity that helps raise money so that children of military members can play hockey.
Columns and the tweets
For the first half of this season, the Big Ten column will be published on Thursdays. This week, my partner-in-writing, Drew Claussen, has the honors. We’ll be alternating weeks.
Follow us both on Twitter: @drewclaussen, @paulacweston.