I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I was off in Belfast, Northern Ireland, watching the Friendship Four. It’s not a Big Ten-related tournament but was definitly a fantastic experience and I encourage everyone to go.
Now back to the league. Since Thanksgiving passed recently, this week’s edition of Three Things will be a “three things teams should be thankful for.”
Here it is:
Penn State’s Offense
Stop me if this sounds familiar. The Nittany Lions have the nation’s top two scorers in Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges. The Big Ten actually has the top three scorers, as Taro Hirose is third.
But unlike years past when the Big Ten has had some of the nation’s most prolific scorers, the Big Ten also has better goaltending than it did at that time. But while some conference games have been played, this is mostly a reflection of the non-conference schedule.
Ohio State’s Tommy Nappier
Tommy Nappier actually leads the country with a .957 save percentage. The eight games he’s started is the most in the top three. Nappier has been splitting starts with Sean Romeo and after Romeo’s season last year, Nappier’s success is a bit of a surprise. But it’s helped Ohio State so far. Nappier also has been in net for five of the team’s wins.
A good non-conference slate
The Big Ten is obviously much better than it was a couple of years ago, so looking at the conference’s non-conference record isn’t actually that shocking. But most of the teams in the league have had non-conference success, including Michigan State. So I wanted to look at it anyway.
Right now the Big Ten is 28-17-3 against non-conference teams. That equates to a .615 winning percentage, which is the second-highest amongst the conferences. The league is 4-0-1 against Atlantic Hockey teams, 11-2 against ECAC teams and 4-2 against Hockey East teams. The conference has a losing record against both the NCHC and WCHA currently, but only by a couple of games.