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Greetings from the frozen tundra of Southern Minnesota. It was a perfect weekend to stay inside and watch some college hockey. All six Big Ten teams were in action against each other and the weekend produced some competitive games.

Here’s how things panned out:

  • Minnesota and Penn Split a series in Happy Valley
  • Michigan State and Wisconsin split a series at the Kohl Center
  • Michigan and Ohio State split a home-and-home, Friday/Sunday series
  • Note: None of the games went to a shootout, so each team picked up three conference points this weekend

Without further ado, here are my three thoughts from the weekend:

1. Right back where we started

With Minnesota being the only team near the top of the standings to pick up a win on Friday night, this weekend started out with the potential for the Gophers to pull away from the rest of the pack. However, the Gophers losing the Penn State in overtime on Saturday and Michigan and Michigan State rebounding to get series splits means we still have a tie for first and second in the conference standings.

The Gophers picked up a 2-1 victory at Penn State on Friday, but the Gophers struggled during Saturday’s game, despite controlling for a large portion of it. Penn State was very opportunistic on Saturday. Scott Conway scored two highlight-reel goals (both included in this video), which were the second and third scores of the game for the Nittany Lions. Eric Scheid also deserves a lot of credit for helping to set up Conway’s second goal.

Luke Juha ended up ending the game when he snuck a wrist shot from the point past Adam Wilcox a little more than two minutes into overtime. Wilcox had 29 saves in the game, including a couple late in the third that kept the game within striking distance for Sam Warning to tie it in the final minute.

All in all, Saturday’s loss was obviously a disappointing one for the Gophers. It’s hard not to ponder what could have been. Sweeping a team that started the weekend two points behind you while the other two teams near the top of the standings dropped points to the league’s bottom feeders would have provided Minnesota with a small cushion for the final couple weeks.

2. No easy games 

Speaking of the bottom feeders, Ohio State and Wisconsin proved that they’ll still have a say in who wins the regular-season title, even if neither have a chance of capturing the crown for themselves.

The Buckeyes and Badgers made things tough for Michigan and Michigan State on Friday. Wisconsin beat the Spartans 2-1 and Ohio State beat the Wolverines 5-3.

It was another chapter in the roller-coaster season for Michigan. Even though they responded with a win on Sunday, the Wolverines have struggled the past couple weekends.

Minnesota has two games left with Ohio State and Michigan has two with Wisconsin, so it’ll be interesting to watch and see if the Buckeyes and Badgers are able to play spoiler again down the stretch.

3. Quick rule refresher

As I documented earlier, we have ties for first and second place in the Big Ten. Just in case the season ends with a tie, here’s a quick look at how the Big Ten handles tiebreakers.

“Seeding for the Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament shall be determined by points accumulated in conference games. Points in the regular season Big Ten standings will be awarded as follows: three points for a regulation or overtime win, two points for a shootout win, one point for a shootout loss and no points for a regulation or overtime loss.

a) Seeding amongst tied teams shall be determined by the greater number of Big Ten regular-season wins;

b) If not determined by (a), seeding amongst tied teams shall be determined by the team with the best regular-season winning percentage against the other co-champion(s);

c) If not determined by (a) or (b), seeding amongst tied teams shall be determined by comparison of total goals for and against each team in contests between (among) co-champion(s) in conference games. For sake of clarity, a team’s goals-against shall be subtracted from its goals-for in order to compare;

d) If not determined by (a) or (b) or (c), seeding amongst tied teams shall be determined by comparison of the winning percentages of the co-champions against the remaining highest ranked Big Ten teams in conference games, successively, until the determination is accomplished or all Big Ten regular-season contests have been considered;

e) If not determined by (a) or (b) or (c) or (d), seeding amongst tied teams shall be determined by the flip of a coin.

In the case of ties among three or more schools, the criteria will be used in order until a team, or teams, is separated from the pack. At that point, the process will begin anew to break the “new” tie. In other words, when a four-way tie becomes a three-way tie, the three-way tie is treated as a “new” tie and the process begins with the first tie-breaking criterion.

Note: Shootout wins shall not count as regular-season wins for the purpose of breaking ties in the standings for tournament seeding.  Games that go to shootout will be considered a tie game and treated as such in calculating winning percentages.”

Source — bigten.com

Here’s to hoping that it never comes down to a coin flip.