Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Jan. 23

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Michigan (10-6-2, 2-2-0 B1G) vs. Michigan State (8-10-3, 2-2-2 B1G): Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., Jan 24 at 6:30 p.m.

The teams will play a home and home series that starts Thursday at the Joe Louis Arena. It marks the 50th time the two teams have met at the Joe, and they have played there every year since 1990-91.

The Wolverines played the Spartans on Dec. 27 at the Great Lakes Invitational, falling 3-0.

Michigan has been fairly idle over the past month, playing four games over a six-week span. The Wolverines are on a five-game losing streak and haven’t won since Dec. 2. Over that span, the Wolverines have failed to score more than two goals. When Michigan scores three goals this season, they are 8-0-0.

Since Steve Racine returned from his injury, he has been sharing the net with Zach Nagelvoort. Nagelvoort is 6-5-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. Racine is 4-1-1with a 2.81 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

Andrew Copp leads Michigan’s offense with 10 goals and 16 points over 16 games,

Greg Wolfe’s eight goals and 17 points lead Michigan State’s scoring attack, but Jake Chelios has netted seven assists in his last eight games. Chelios leads all Big Ten defensemen in helpers.

The Spartans are 3-1-1 over their past five games, and Jake Hildebrand has two shutouts over that stretch. Hilebrand is 7-8-3 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. The Spartans also block 17.33 shots per game.

Matt Berry has nine points through 11 games against the Wolverines, while Hildebrand is 2-3-0. Racine appeared in two games against the Spartans in his career and is 0-1-0. Phil Di Giuseppe has nine points in nine games against Michigan State.

The Wolverines have played very few Big Ten games, making it hard to see how they stack up against conference opponents. The Spartans have been on a hot streak lately — including that win over Michigan.

Prediction: Series split.

Ohio State (11-8-1, 1-4-1 B1G) at Wisconsin (13-6-1, 4-2-0 B1G): Jan. 24 at 9 p.m., Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.

Ohio State and Wisconsin will meet in their first-ever series and first game since Oct. 13, 2007. The two teams have met 11 times in total, and the Badgers lead the all-time series 10-1-0. The last meeting was Ohio State’s only win in over Wisconsin.

The Badgers haven’t played in two weeks but are on a three-game winning streak, including a pair of victories against Michigan. At home this season, Wisconsin is 12-1-1.

Michael Mersch’s 24 points leads Wisconsin’s offense and his .70 goals per game leads the Big Ten. Junior Joel Rumpel won his last eight starts and is 10-1-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

Wisconsin will be without sophomore Nic Kerdiles.

The Badgers and the Buckeyes both average 3.55 goals per game, tied for fourth in the nation. Ohio State’s Ryan Dzingel leads all Big Ten scorers with 28 points.

Over the past four games, Ohio State is 1-2-1, winning its only Big Ten game against Michigan State.

Since Matt Tomkins’ return, he’s split starts with newcomer Christian Frey for the Buckeyes. Tomkins holds a 2.45 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage, while Frey’s goals-against average is 3.07 and his save percentage is .903.

It’s hard to gauge where Wisconsin is since they haven’t played in two weeks. Despite one conference win, the Buckeyes have played well, so don’t count Ohio State out.

Prediction: Series split.

Minnesota (17-2-3, 7-0-1-0 B1G) vs. St. Cloud State (12-4-4, 7-3-2 NCHC), North Star College Cup: Jan. 24 at 7 p.m., Jan. 25 at TBD

The Golden Gophers will play in the North Star College Cup, an annual tournament that will also include Minnesota State, St. Cloud State, Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth. All five teams used to participate in the WCHA.

In the inaugural year, the tournament will feature Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth. The Gophers will host the tournament each year, while the other teams will rotate in and out.

Minnesota is 8-0-2 over the past 10 games, tying Boston College for the country’s longest unbeaten streak. The Gophers are also on a five-game winning streak, defeating Big Ten opponents Penn State and Ohio State.

Sam Warning leads Minnesota’s offense with 26 points after netting a hat trick last weekend. The Gophers average 3.82 goals per game, second best in the country. Kyle Rau is third with 21 points, and the Gophers are 56-8-4 when he records a point.

Adam Wilcox is 16-2-3 this season with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.

St. Cloud State features Michael Brodzinski’s brother, Jonny. The pair were both taken in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, seven picks apart.

Jonny Brodzinski leads the Huskies with 21 points. Ryan Faragher is 11-3-3 with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. The Huskies are on a three-game winless streak and are 2-3-2 in their last seven games.

Minnesota State (14-10-0, 12-6-0 WCHA) is 3-4-0 in its last seven games but is currently on a two-game winning streak after sweeping Ferris State. J.P. Lafontaine’s 25 points lead the Maverick offense.

Cole Higgins has started eight of the last 10 games and holds a 2.05 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Stephon Williams is 4-5-0 with a 3.25 goals-against average and a .870 save percentage.

The Mavericks will face Minnesota Duluth (9-9-2, 5-6-1 NCHC) in the first game of the tournament. The Bulldogs are 3-4-1 over their last eight games. Seven Bulldogs have passed the double-digit point total, but none have reached 20. Alex Iafallo’s 15 points leads the team. In net, Aaron Crandall has started 14 games and holds a 2.64 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

The Gophers weren’t able to win the Mariucci Classic, but it has been a while since the holiday break and Minnesota has all its players back.

Prediction: Minnesota wins the inaugural North Star College Cup.

Penn State vs. Boston College: Jan. 25 at 7 p.m.

These teams faced each other at the Three Rivers Classic on Dec. 28, and the Eagles pulled away with an 8-2 win.

Eric Scheid has a team high 14 points. Matthew Skoff and Eamon McAdam have both seen time in net, with McAdam holding a 4.07 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage and Skoff a 3.39 goals-against average and a.895 save percentage.

The Nittany Lions are on a five-game losing streak, and they have only defeated Atlantic Hockey teams this season. Penn State is 1-11-0 in its last 12 games.

The Eagles have the nation’s best offense and average 4.54 goals per game. They also have the country’s top two scorers in Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes. Gaudreau has 48 points, Hayes has 43 and Bill Arnold is tied for fourth with 33 points. The trio makes up the nation’s highest-scoring line.

While Boston College’s defense ranks outside the top 10 nationally, the Eagles allow 2.33 goals per game and have a national-best goal differential of plus-53.

The Eagles are also on a 10-game unbeaten streak.

Penn State’s Mark Yanis will not play after Big Ten suspended him for a hit from behind against Michigan State on Jan. 18.

Prediction: Boston College wins.

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