Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Feb. 3

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

The Wolverines and Buckeyes face off in another installment of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry (I’ve been told it’s a big deal, but can’t confirm yet). The Spartans are playing Wisconsin, leaving the best matchup of the weekend the series between Minnesota and Penn State.

The Badgers are close to creeping inside the Pairwise bubble while Ohio State is sliding out, so the Buckeyes really can’t afford to lose to a struggling Michigan team. The Badgers and Gophers, bitter rivals till the end, are locked in a tie for first place. Penn State is third and Ohio State is fourth, but the Buckeyes aren’t too far out.

Ohio State captain Nick Schilkey still has not played since Jan. 14. I asked Steve Rohlik if there was an update on him after Saturday’s game and Rohlik said there was none. Tanner Laczynski returned, though, and Rohlik said he’s doing better.

Hobey Baker nominees were released this week. Grant Besse, Jake Bischoff, Peyton Jones, Justin Kloos, Luke Kunin, Nick Schilkey, Tyler Sheehy and Denis Smirnov were nominated. Penn State’s David Goodwin was also named a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian award.

Michigan vs. Ohio State: Feb. 3 at 8:05 p.m.; Feb. 4 at 7:35 p.m.

Michigan is not having a good season. The Wolverines haven’t won since Dec. 30 and have just two wins in their last 10 games. They have one win in the conference and were unable to beat Michigan State last week. The Buckeyes are struggling to stay consistent, but they’ve still managed to play well and win

Jake Slaker leads Michigan with 14 points. All three goaltenders have played in eight games, but freshman’s Hayden Lavigne has a save percentage of .932 – still the best ton the team. Michigan’s rotation has expanded from just two netminders to all three now.

Mason Jobst is now Ohio State’s leading scorer and has 31 points, which is a new single-season career high. Christian Frey has been the team’s starter of late and, although he looked shaky on Saturday, still has a .922 save percentage.

Michigan is not good and Ohio State is still a threat to score. Plus they’ve kind of pulled it together since that bad performance against Arizona State.

Prediction: Ohio State sweeps

Michigan State vs. Wisconsin: Feb, 3 at 7:05 p.m.; Feb. 4 at 7:05 p.m.

The Spartans have looked better, or have at least been winning lately. Mason Appleton leads the team with 19 points, while freshman Taro Hirose has also had an offensive impact. Ed Minney’s been playing better, but not great, and has a save percentage of .891. Michigan State tied and beat Michigan, snapping a string of nine winless contests.

Wisconsin has been on fire lately and is creeping inside the Pairwise. The Badgers have won three games in a row and six of their last eight, all conference contests. Goaltending and defense are spotty, but Luke Kunin, Grant Besse and Trent Frederic are threats offensively. Kunin has 24 points and Jurusik has been better since returning from his injury but is still splitting time with Jack Berry.

The Spartans are.. well, Wisconsin beat them 10-2 combined in the last series.

Prediction: Wisconsin sweeps

Minnesota vs. Penn State: Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. CT; Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. CT

This is definitely the most anticipated Big Ten matchup this weekend. The Nittany Lions are winless in their last three after dropping a game to a depleted Ohio State team and then falling to Princeton. Penn State has lost three games in January. Denis Smirnov leads the team with 29 points while Peyton Jones has a .905 save percentage.

Minnesota has won eight of its last 10 games, but the wins have come against weak competition. The most promising results, though, were last weekend. The Gophers lost to Minnesota-Duluth in the last North Star College Cup, but they only fell by a goal and then defeated Bemidji State the next night. Tyler Sheehy leads the team with 33 points, a single-season career high. Eric Schierhorn has a .898 save percentage.

The Nittany Lions are starting to struggle now that their competition is getting tougher, and teams like Minnesota can hurt you with quick strikes off turnovers.

Prediction: Minnesota sweeps

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