After a short winter break, college hockey is back in action starting today. The second half of the season kicks off with several tournaments, featuring a couple Big Ten teams. The Three Rivers Classic, Florida College Classic and, of course, the Great Lakes Invitational all take place this week. The Gophers host their own annual tournament, the Mariucci Classic, this weekend.
While five Big Ten teams are playing this week or weekend, the Badgers have another “bye” week. They face Trinity Western on New Year’s Day in an exhibition match – Wisconsin’s only exhibition game of the season.
Michigan State and Michigan vs. Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan, Great Lakes Invitational: Dec. 29 and 30 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This has been a really difficult season for Michigan State. Even having one of the best goaltenders around isn’t enough to support a very struggling defense. A part of that could be because of Josh Jacobs’ unexpected offseason departure (he was one of their best defenseman). But whatever the reason, the team defense has looked very weak. The offense has stepped up a little bit though, with freshman Mason Appleton contributing 15 points. Michael Ferrantino, J.T. Stenglein and Mackenzie MacEachern have 14. The Spartans have one win in their last 10 games.
Michigan fared well in out-of-conference play, but didn’t destroy Wisconsin the way it was expected to. The Wolverines have a 9-3-3 record so far, with a pretty powerful offense backed by Kyle Connor. But they are without Zach Werenski, who’s at the World Junior Championship. Connor leads the team with 22 points and is amongst the nation’s highest-scoring players. Michigan has used two goaltenders again this year, but Steve Racine received most of his starts in November and Zach Nagelvoort had most of his in December. While Michigan lacks a stellar defense, the team leads the nation with 4.47 goals per game.