The Wolverines split with Ferris State. After winning the first game 7-2, Michigan lost 3-2 in overtime. Minnesota swept Michigan State by a total score of 7-1. Notre Dame also swept, taking down Ohio State 4-1 and 3-2. Penn State split with Mercyhurst and allowed 12 goals on the weekend. The Badgers lost to North Dakota 3-2 and tied 2-2.
Minnesota at Michigan
Wisconsin at Michigan State
Penn State at Notre Dame
Ohio State at UConn
(After the jump: Mitch Lewandowski, Notre Dame’s net, and Penn State’s struggles)
Mitch Lewandowski is the key to Michigan State’s offense
The Spartan offense has fared well lately. And although they haven’t been playing the toughest competition, it’s evident a big boost comes from Lewandowski. He’s a really good player, arguably the best on the team and the best the Spartans have had for a long time. He’s a great playmaker and made some spectacular passes, and the offense is running off his abilities.
The Spartans look like a much better team than they were last year. While, aside from Lewandowski, they don’t really have the talent, they’re working well with the pieces they do have. It’s hard to explain how they look better, but they seem to be more coherent than they have been the last couple of seasons, and it’s working well. Michigan State probably won’t fare this well the rest of the season, but they could finish higher than people (like myself) thought they would.
Notre Dame’s Goaltending
Dylan St. Cyr was expected to be Cal Petersen’s heir in net. but that’s been far from true. The freshman started four games this season but hasn’t played since a 6-4 loss to Nebraska Omaha. In his place is sophomore Cale Morris, Petersen’s understudy. Morris has helped the Fighting Irish to three straight wins and pinned Ohio State to just three goals total last weekend, and even stopped 39 shots in the 3-2 win.
Penn State’s Struggles
While I spent all of last year saying Penn State wasn’t as good as everyone thought they were, I assumed at least that they would beat Atlantic Hockey teams. But it’s only been a few weeks and they’ve already dropped two of the contests. And they gave up 12 goals to Mercyhurst last weekend, which shouldn’t happen. These past few weeks – especially the losses to American International and Mercyhurst – expose the flaws Penn State has, especially defensively. The Nittany Lions thrive when they can set up in the offensive zone and take shots on net.
While that’s worked in the past against weaker teams (no offense, American International), it is odd that formula isn’t working against weaker teams now, and, unless Penn State smooths this out, will make this season very hard for them.
It’s still early, but while it’s easy to let one odd loss slide, it’s harder to let two odd losses slide (I’m looking at you, Denver)