Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 28

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Michigan (15-10-3, 7-6-1-1 B1G) vs. Ohio State (15-10-3, 5-6-3-2 B1G): Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m., March 2 at 1 p.m.

The Wolverines won both games over the Buckeyes when the two teams met earlier this season. Michigan leads the all-time series 73-33-11 and will make its first trip to Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

While JT Compher leads the Wolverines in scoring with 27 points, Zach Hyman has netted 11 points over the last eight games. But the Wolverines may be without captain Mac Bennett, who left last Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury.

Goalkeeping continues to be a question for the Wolverines, as Steve Racine has started three of the last four games. He was in net for Michigan’s win over Penn State, which snapped a four-game losing streak. Racine’s Feb. 14 start was his first since Dec. 28.

After a week off, the Buckeyes — who are 1-1-2 in their last four games — are three points behind Michigan in the Big Ten standings. Ryan Dzingel’s 38 points still lead all Big Ten players, and Ohio State’s offense ranks seventh in the nation.

Two weeks ago, Ohio State split its series with Wisconsin. In the past seven games, the Buckeyes are 4-1-2. Christian Frey was in net for all of those games.

Frey, who joined the Buckeyes in the middle of the season, was not with the team when Ohio State played Michigan earlier.

Dzingel and Tanner Fritz both have 10 points against Michigan all time.

This series is difficult to predict. Both Ohio State and Michigan have showed flashes of potential, but nothing concrete. Ohio State has stability in net, which Michigan lacks. The Wolverines have also struggled to earn wins of late.

Even if the Buckeyes are the stronger team, it’s doubtful they can sweep Michigan.

Prediction: Series split.

Minnesota (21-4-5, 10-2-2-0 B1G) vs. Penn State (6-20-2, 2-11-1-0): Feb. 28 at 9 p.m., March 1 at 7 p.m.

Record-wise the Gophers are the best team in the Big Ten, while Penn State occupies the league’s last spot.

Minnesota swept Michigan in its last series, but sat out last week on break. The Gophers are 3-2-2 in their last seven games.

Minnesota’s coach Don Lucia is two wins away from No. 367, which would be tied for fifth-most amongst coaches at a Big Ten school all time. 

The Gophers allow 1.97 goals per game, the lowest total in the nation. Minnesota has also received 22 goals from the blue line, which is tied for fourth in the country.

This is Penn State’s first trip to Mariucci Arena. The Nittany Lions are 0-2-0 against the Gophers, and Minnesota’s Ben Marshall, Justin Kloos and Travis Boyd all have three points against Penn State. Nittany Lions David Glen and Curtis Loik have a goal and an assist against the Gophers.

Penn State split the series with Michigan last weekend and is 2-2-1 in its last five games.

Eric Scheid leads Penn State’s attack with 19 points. Matthew Skoff has started the last five games in net.

Prediction: Minnesota sweeps.

Michigan State vs. USNTDP U-18: March 1 at 7 p.m.

This is an exhibition game, but the Spartans have some ties with the USNTDP.

Edwin Minney, a U-18 goalkeeper, signed his National Letter of Intent and will be a Spartan next season. This season, Minney holds a 2.64 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage over 20 games.

Current U-18 coach Danton Cole played for Michigan State from 1985-89, amassing 163 points (69g, 94a).

After this exhibition game, the Spartans return to conference play when it plays a home-and-home with the Wolverines.

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