Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 25

Posted: February 25th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

It was another interesting week in the Big Ten.The Gophers are tied with Michigan for first in the conference, but Penn State and Michigan State are both still two points behind.

The Badgers earned their first win streak of the season, defeated Michigan State 2-1 in the first game of their series. The Spartans responded with a 3-0 win, but things are looking rocky for the Spartans now. Tom Anastos just suspended Dylan Pavelek and Carson Gatt for violating team rules, the second and third Spartans to be suspended this season.

They’re out indefinitely, and Michigan State has a huge series against Minnesota coming up. Then at the end of the season, the Spartans will take on Michigan just before the season’s end.

Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines – in a huge upset – fell 5-3 to Ohio State. It was entirely surprising, given the Buckeyes are starting to get healthy, and scored six goals against Michigan this season. That extended Michigan’s losing streak to three games, until a 5-2 win over the Buckeyes snapped it.

After an impressive series against Michigan last weekend, the Gophers defeated Penn State and extended their winning streak to five. The Nittany Lions earned a 4-3 win in overtime on Saturday.

(After the jump: Wisconsin’s getting better, the two worst teams will go farther then you think and a PairWise check.)
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How Important is Scoring First?

Posted: February 23rd, 2015 / by Mike McMahon

For the past few weeks, it seems like every player or coach I’ve spoken to has brought up the importance of scoring first. How important is it, though?

Truth is, it’s pretty important.

Across the nation this season, the team that has scored first has won almost 70 percent of the time (69.8%). Atlantic Hockey drags that percentage down, actually. In every other conference, the winning percentage for teams that score first is over 70 percent. In Hockey East, it’s the highest at 74 percent.

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 20-21

Posted: February 20th, 2015 / by Ryan Evans

There are only three league series this weekend, but still plenty on the line in the WCHA. There are just three weeks left in the regular season and a lot to still be sorted out in that time.

Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, and Bowling Green have already clinched spots in the playoffs, with the Mavericks and Huskies having secured home ice advantage. The Falcons can do the same this weekend against Northern Michigan. After that, though, everything is still up for grabs. Five of the remaining six playoff-eligible teams — all of which are in action this weekend — can finish anywhere from fourth place and home ice to last place and missing the playoffs. Only Lake Superior State can’t finish higher than fifth.

In the Polls: Following its winless weekend against Alaska last time out, Minnesota State dropped to No. 2 in this week’s poll. Michigan Tech moved up a spot to No. 4 and Bowling Green held steady at No. 8. Bemidji State (3) is the only WCHA that received votes in the poll.

The Mavericks still hold the top spot in the Pairwise rankings, though, while the Huskies and Falcons check in at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. No other WCHA team is in the top 25.

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 20

Posted: February 20th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

This weekend of Big Ten play takes off with a logjam in the standings. Minnesota and Michigan are tied for first, while Penn State and Michigan State sit two points behind.

The biggest test this weekend will be Minnesota against Penn State. Minnesota just swept Michigan, looking like the team we expected them to be. On the other side, Penn State was just swept by Michigan State.

Michigan vs. Ohio State might be an interesting one, depending on how healthy the Buckeyes are. Even with the injuries, Ohio State put up six goals on Michigan, albeit allowing 10. Wolverine captain Andrew Copp is day-to-day with an injury, that he probably sustained on this collision.
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Three Things I Think: ECAC 2/18

Posted: February 18th, 2015 / by Josh Seguin

Quinnipiac has all but locked up the Cleary Cup. It can do so at home against its rival, Yale, on Friday night. Hypothetically it would only clinch a share, but nonetheless to do so in front of your biggest rival is always something special. St. Lawrence is in second place in the standings and in pretty good shape, as it is clear of third place Yale by three points. At that point it gets interesting, as four points separate positions 3-8. Harvard holds the fourth and final bye, which in all honesty it needs to make a run. Dartmouth however is just a point back, while Colgate is two points back of that all important bye. It seems as though, Union and RPI are all but eliminated from contention for the final first round home series. The Engineers are four behind eighth, while its capital region counterpart is five points back.

The national picture is again looking ok for the league, as three teams currently sit in the top 15 of the Pairwise. Quinnipiac is the highest ranked league team, in tenth place. Yale and Harvard are in 14th and 15th respectively, hardly comfortable positioning going forward. Yale could really help itself with a win against Quinnipiac on Friday, ditto Harvard picking up some road wins in the North Country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 17

Posted: February 17th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

The weekend’s play has created a logjam for the top of the Big Ten. The Gophers vaulted into a tie for first after sweeping Michigan, but the Spartans and Nittany Lions are just two points behind. After splitting with Ohio State, the Badgers are still last in the conference.

After struggling since returning from winter break, the Gophers took down Michigan 6-2, with captain Kyle Rau earning a hat trick. Minnesota then won 2-0, getting revenge for dropping tow games at Michigan in January. Rau and Mike Reilly led the team with four points over the weekend.

For the second time in three weeks, it was proven Michigan’s high-powered offense can be stopped. The Wolverines still average the most goals per game, but it dropped from 4.21 goals per game to 3.96 after scoring two goals against Minnesota. It was the first time Michigan was shut out all season. On Monday, Wolverine coach Red Berenson announced that Andrew Copp is week-to-week after suffering an upper-body injury. I’m going to bet he was injured on this play – when he tried to hit Travis Boyd but ended up sending both of them into the boards.

Michigan’s rival, Michigan State, earned a sweep over Penn State – and has won five of its last six games. For some reason, the Spartans have had a lot of success against the Nittany Lions. This season, the Spartans are 2-1-1, and last year Michigan State was 3-0-1 against Penn State.  Mackenzie MacEachern had five points, including a hat trick, for Michigan State this weekend.

The Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin 2-1 on Friday, then fell 3-2 on Saturday. With the win, Wisconsin snapped an 11-game losing streak. Cameron Hughes returned to the lineup, while freshman Adam Rockwood netted two points (1g, 1a), including the game-winning tally on Saturday. Rockwood has scored five points (2g, 3a) over the past six games.

In some other news and notes, Penn State’s David Glen was suspended for butt-ending a Spartan on Saturday. He’ll miss Friday’s game.

(After the jump: The Minnesota we expected, anything can happen, and what can we expect from Michigan State)

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Big Ten: A Look Into Corsi, Week 18

Posted: February 16th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

Two Big Ten series ended in sweeps, with Minnesota and Michigan State earning victories in their home rinks. The Buckeyes and Badgers, a matchup between two struggling teams, yielded a sweep.

The Michigan State-Penn State matchup featured a high-powered offense that likes to shoot against a the Big Ten’s best defense. The Nittany Lions have some of the best Corsi stats in the conference (because they aim to shoot the puck), but their Corsi numbers dropped in the first game to Michigan State.

A similar effect happened in the Minnesota-Michigan series. The Gophers shut down Michigan’s offense, and also finished with a higher Corsi than the Wolverines. It’s surprising because Minnesota’s Corsi numbers haven’t been very strong throughout the season.

The full Corsi stats are listed below: Read the rest of this entry »

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WCHA Weekend Preview, Feb. 13-14

Posted: February 13th, 2015 / by Ryan Evans

The WCHA has a full slate of league play this weekend, with five conference series on the docket as the races for playoff positioning head toward the stretch run.

Minnesota State and Michigan Tech have already clinched home ice for the playoffs and Bowling Green can join them this weekend. The fourth spot it up for grabs though, with three teams — Northern Michigan, Ferris State, and Bemidji State — in the best positions to clinch it. Though, Lake Superior State and Alabama-Huntsville can put themselves in the conversation with strong showings this weekend.

With so many teams packed together in the middle of the standings, it’s looking like a lot will have to be decided on the final weekend of the season.

Two WCHA players — Michigan Tech senior forward Tanner Kero and Ferris State senior goaltender CJ Motte — have been named as finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Players are nominated based on notable achievements in the community, in the classroom, in their character, and in competition. Fans can vote for the winner on the Senior CLASS website.

I apologize for the lack of a “Three Things” article after last weekend, luckily CHN has a lot of good WCHA content to check out: BGSU was featured as a the team of the week, and Jen Dobias wrote a great piece about Alabama-Huntsville’s return to relevance this season in her feature, “Southern Revival.”

In the Polls: No movement for any of the three teams in this week’s poll. Minnesota State remains the No. 1 team in the country, Michigan Tech joins them in the top-five at No. 5, and Bowling Green sits at No. 8. Bemidji State (1) is the only WCHA team receiving votes in this week’s poll.

In the Pairwise, the Mavericks remain No. 1, the Huskies jumped up a spot to No. 6, and the Falcons dropped a couple places to No. 8.

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Parity in Atlantic Hockey Alive and Well

Posted: February 13th, 2015 / by Mike McMahon

Earlier this week, I joined Hockey on Campus‘ Bernie Corbett to discuss the playoff race in Atlantic Hockey, and it got me thinking …

Parity is something most college hockey conferences love to brag about, but until recently, it never really existed. The front-runners were almost always the front-runners and the also-rans were almost always the also-rans, with a few extraordinary years strewn about throughout history.

That trend has changed the last four seasons. UMass Lowell and Providence have become definite powers in Hockey East while Maine and New Hampshire have slid backwards; even Merrimack had a run to the Hockey East title game in 2011. The ECAC’s rise to power has been clearly evident, with back-to-back national champions and a few other programs – most notably Quinnipiac – without a title but still one of the nation’s best teams.

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Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 13

Posted: February 13th, 2015 / by Jashvina Shah

The Big Ten enters another week of conference play, with Michigan at the top of the conference. Its series with Minnesota is the marquee matchup of this week, featuring two of the Big Ten’s top teams.

The Gophers swept Ohio State last weekend, but haven’t earned a quality win against a good team in a long time. Meanwhile, the Wolverines still have defensive questions. The last time both teams met, Michigan swept Minnesota – but allowed five goals to the Gophers on Jan. 10.

All three series are interesting, as Penn State  –  is on an eight-game unbeaten streak, and has scored four or more goals in eight of the last nine contests. It’s another defensive test for the Spartans, who just faced the top-ranked offense in the country with a split against Michigan.

In probably the most underrated series of the weekend (for all the wrong reasons) the Buckeyes and Badgers will face off to see which team is the worst in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s struggles have been masked by Wisconsin’s even more impressive issues, but this weekend will be telling.

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