Four teams were in action this weekend. Here’s how the games played out.
- Minnesota swept Bemidji State, winning 5-2 on Friday and 5-3 on Sunday.
- Penn State beat Holy Cross 3-1 on Friday and completed the sweep by winning 7-1 on Sunday
- Michigan trounced Massachusetts-Lowell 8-4 on Friday and lost to Boston University 3-2 on Saturday.
- Michigan State lost a pair of 2-1 games, one to Boston University and another to Massachusetts-Lowell.
Here are three things I saw this weekend.
1. Minnesota looked strong in its home opener.
Friday evening was my first opportunity to see this year’s highly touted Minnesota team live, and I was impressed.
Sure, even though the Gophers swept Bemidji State there was plenty of room for improvement, but Minnesota looked like a team that has enough talent to win on any given day even if some players have an off game.
Adam Wilcox made some solid saves on Friday, including this one. He was called on to make more saves than you think he would have to in a 5-2 game. Wilcox had 29 saves on Friday. His had a more pedestrian effort on Saturday, giving up three goals on 22 shots.
Both Don Lucia and Travis Boyd said that this weekend’s series felt more like the start of the season than the Gophers two games at the Ice Breaker Tournament because of the early weekend off in-between. For Minnesota, playing in front more than a handful of fans was probably a welcome sight, too.
The Gophers will play another in-state rival next weekend when they play a home-and-home with St. Cloud State.
2. Penn State outscored Holy Cross 10-2 in a Friday/Sunday sweep
Yes, the competition level is lacking, but for Penn State, a sweep is a sweep.
Penn State did a great job dealing with adversity on Friday and playing with the lead on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions saw its 1-0 lead disappear about seven minutes into the third period on Friday. The game didn’t stay tied for long, however. Eric Scheid scored a power play goal at the 12:32 mark of the period and Casey Bailey added an insurance goal four minutes later.
On Saturday, after a fairly quiet first half of the game, Penn State scored twice in the second period and then added five more in the third. Scott Conway had two goals and two assists in Saturday’s game. Penn State had 11 players on the game’s score sheet.
Penn State has another winnable series next weekend when it hosts Bentley for two games. If the Nittany Lions sweep that, it’ll be interesting if it will help them gain some momentum for when the schedule gets a little tougher.
3. The Wolverines’ Friday performance was the lone highlight of Michigan and Michigan State’s trip out east
Senior forward Zach Hyman had a hat trick and two assists on Friday night as the Wolverines destroyed Massachusetts-Lowell 8-4. Unfortunately, Michigan dropped the second game of its weekend trip out east to Boston University.
Michigan State dropped both of its games against the same two schools.
What makes the three losses for the two Michigan teams in the Big Ten more frustrating is that they all came by one goal.
Both Michigan schools have another tough weekend coming up, too. Michigan will travel to Michigan Tech for a two-game series and the Spartans will host Ferris State for a pair of games. Michigan Tech swept Ferris State this weekend. The Bulldogs defeated Michigan 4-3 in their first game of the season.
Neither team is in a good position after this weekend. I’m not ready to declare any games as “must wins” this early in the season, but both Michigan and Michigan State need a strong performance next weekend to salvage their nonconference record.