With the first weekend of regular-season play in the books, the collective results of Big Ten teams isn’t much more encouraging than the league’s .466 nonconference win percentage record from 2014-15. The league was 1-3-3 on the weekend, with some bright spots from three teams, specifically.
1. Wisconsin’s resilience.
The Badgers came from behind twice to tie Northern Michigan in the season-opening home series. Junior Grant Besse scored in the final minute of regulation in Friday’s 2-2 game and Wisconsin overcame a three-goal deficit in the third period of Saturday’s 3-3 game with goals from sophomore Ryan Wagner, junior Jed Soleway and freshman Luke Kunin. Kunin’s goal was his first collegiate marker (obviously), but Wagner’s was just his third in 37 games. Wagner’s first goal came in his 22nd game last season.
The Badgers dropped the first eight games of the 2014-15 season. Two ties and the ability to come from behind are welcome developments.
2. Penn State’s dominance.
In their 6-1 win over the Canisius in Buffalo Saturday, five different Nittany Lions scored and junior Eamon McAdam turned away all shots but one for a .964 single-game save percentage. PSU dominated in shots (46) while keeping penalty minutes low (six). The Nittany Lions registered three power-play goals, including senior David Glen’s five-on-three marker midway through the second period, the first of his two goals in the game. PSU led 3-0 after the first and 5-0 after the second. Freshman Chase Berger netted his first collegiate goal in the first.
3. Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand.
Before the season began, Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said that goaltender Jake Hildebrand simply needed to continue being Jake Hildebrand, which is what the goaltender who saw every game in the Spartans’ net in 2014-15 did in the IceBreaker tournament. The Spartans came from behind for a 3-3 tie in Friday’s game against Maine Friday night and beat Lake Superior State 4-1 on Saturday.
The Black Bears won Friday’s shootout to advance to the title game so MSU returns to East Lansing without hardware, but after a challenging first period against Maine Friday in which the Black Bears outshot the Spartans 13-7, Hildebrand was rock solid and finished the weekend with a .932 save percentage and 1.94 GAA.
MSU freshman defenseman Zach Osburn scored his first two collegiate goals Friday night, both on the power play; his second tally was the goal that tied the score with an extra attacker and 1:09 remaining in regulation. Four of the Spartans’ seven goals in both contests came on the power play.