This weekend again there are two Big Ten series with Michigan State traveling to Penn State and the Gophers hosting the Wolverines. Wisconsin has a bye week while Ohio State will host Arizona State.
Michigan State at Penn State: Jan. 13 at 7 p.,.; Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.
The Spartans and Nittany Lions are on opposite ends right now. Penn State has won 12 of its last 13 games while Michigan State has lost seven games in a row and is the only team in the Big Ten without a point.
Mason Appleton has 17 points for the Spartans but the defense is struggling and goaltender Ed Minney can’t catch a break. He has a .882 save percentage. Meanwhile Penn State has one of the country’s best offenses with the leading freshman scorer, Denis Smirnov. Petyon Jones has a .919 save percentage.
Penn State wins because they love taking shots, and that’s going to be a nightmare for Michigan State.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps
Michigan at Minnesota: Jan. 13 at 9 p.m.; Jan 14 at 8 p.m.
The Gophers, picked to finish first in the Big Ten, have struggled to play consistently but won the Mariucci Classic in December (although they only had to beat Mercyhurst and UMass). The Gophers split with Ohio State early in December and surrendered 11 goals on the weekend.
Tyler Sheehy leads the team with 25 points while Eric Schierhorn has a .894 save percentage.
The Wolverines last played in December at the Great Lakes Invitational where they fell to Michigan Tech before beating the Spartans in overtime. This was supposed to be a down year for Michigan offensively and it is, but the Wolverines have gotten some scoring. The team’s real strength lies in goaltending, where Hayden Lavigne has a .937 save percentage.
Minnesota is a better team than Michigan, but I wouldn’t count Minnesota’s inconsistency out – or Lavigne’s goaltending.
Prediction: Series split
Arizona State at Ohio State: Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.
The Buckeyes have struggled a bit, winning just two of their last three. They split with Minnesota and then fell to Miami on New Year’s Eve and then split with Penn State. They’ve missed Tanner Laczynski, who was out winning gold at World Juniors. He was too sick to play when he returned but the Buckeyes hope to have him back this weekend. Laczynski and Nick Schilkey have 22 and 23 points respectively to lead one of the nation’s best offenses. Christian Frey has started the last five games and holds a .908 save percentage.
Boston University transfer Robbie Baillargeon leads Arizona State with 18 points. The fledgling Sun Devils have won their share of games this year with six wins against New Hampshire, Air Force, RPI, AIC and UMass. They have lost their last three.
Prediction: Ohio State sweeps