All six Big Ten teams were in action against each other this weekend, with the three teams at the top of the standings traveling to face off against the three at the bottom. The road warriors, for the most part, prevailed against the bottom three.
Here’s how things played out:
- Minnesota swept Ohio State
- Michigan picked up a win and a tie with a shootout victory at Wisconsin
- Penn State beat Michigan State on Friday and also settled for a tie and shootout win on Saturday
1. Gophers find a way to win two close ones
The point that allows Minnesota to be alone in first place after this weekend was earned because the Gophers found a way to win their game in overtime on Friday and Michigan couldn’t do the same on Saturday.
After Ohio State managed to tie the game late in the third period for what seems like the 10th time this season, Minnesota captain Justin Kloos scored the game winner three and a half minutes into the overtime period. Friday’s game was the third straight time that Minnesota downed the Buckeyes in overtime. Minnesota completed the sweep on Saturday with a 4-3 win.
You have to at least feel a little bad for Ohio State, losing four one-goal games to the same team in one season. It’ll be an interesting storyline if the Gophers and Buckeyes happen to meet one more time at the Big Ten Tournament. I don’t think the Gophers would be excited to see them for a fifth time.
2. Michigan and Penn State keep pace
Neither team managed to sweep after picking up win on Friday, but both Michigan and Penn State were able to keep pace with the Gophers by taking five of six conference points from their opponents.
Michigan’s tie was the worse of the two, as the Badgers were able to tie the game with less than 30 seconds left in the third period. Penn State trailed Michigan State 2-1 after two periods on Saturday before Luke Juha scored a power play goal with a little more than five minutes remaining in the game.
Both teams won the shootout by a score of 1-0, which could turn out to be an important point when we get to the end of the season. Even though I still hate to see two teams that played 65 minutes of even hockey end up getting different points from the game based on a skills competition.
3. The Big Ten has a clear top and bottom
This year the six teams are split right down the middle. Minnesota leads the pack with 33 points and Michigan is right behind the Gophers with 32. Penn State has 26 points and then there is a big drop off to Ohio State’s 12 points. Michigan State and Wisconsin bring up the rear with 10 and seven points respectively.
The top two teams will get a first-round by at the postseason tournament. Penn State will have to go on a nice run to challenge for one of those spots, and the Nittany Lions still might need Michigan or Minnesota to stumble back to them. With all six teams making the tournament and the bottom three being so close together, it’ll be interesting to see who will play who after the regular season concludes.