The Big Ten is ready for another weekend of play, but it will only feature on conference matchup as the Wolverines and Badgers face each other. In non-conference action, Notre Dame will be at RPI, Michigan Sate hosts Ferris State, Penn State will at Arizona State and Minnesota will host Harvard. The Buckeyes are on a bye week after defeating and tying UConn.
Last weekend Notre Dame swept Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State split and Michigan and Minnesota played in a couple high-scoring games with Michigan winning one game and teams tying the other.
(After the jump: The Fighting Irish are back, this is the Gophers and Michigan is good)
The Fighting Irish are back
…Sort of. Notre Dame entered the Big Ten after making it to the Frozen Four and, despite some key offseason losses, were poised to compete for a top-half spot. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, injuries ran rampant and kept the Fighting Irish from fielding a healthy team all season. But the team is slowly starting to come together again and saw some key players take the ice again last weekend. That included Andrew Oglevie, who potted a goal and an assist in a 5-3 win, which was his first game since Oct. 20.
This is the Gophers
It’s easy to look at Minnesota’s wins and losses so far and think the Gophers are in trouble. They aren’t really in trouble, but that’s not a good thing, because this is just how Minnesota plays. Since joining the Big Ten, or more accurately since 2014, the Gophers have consistently fielded one of the most talented and skilled teams. But they’ve always failed to make a winning team from those players. Usually that means Minnesota struggles in the first few months, which used to consist of non-conference play. But that early-season schedule primed the Gophers to run the tables in conference play.
With Big Ten play beginning much earlier, the story has been slightly difficult. Minnesota is still struggling to play consistently, which isn’t surprising, but they’ve also struggled to win conference games. So far Minnesota is 3-2-1 in Big Ten play. It’s not bad, but the Gophers split with Penn State and failed to defeat Michigan.
The Wolverines are better than we thought they would be
This must be a combination of new head coach Mel Pearson along with the incredibly skilled freshmen class Michigan welcomed. The Wolverines average 3.90 goals per game, which is fourth in the country. Most of the scoring is coming from upperclassmen like Cooper Marody and Tony Calderone, but the sophomore Will Lockwood and Jake Slaker have contributed too. And don’t overlook freshman Josh Norris and Quinn Hughes–they’re just a couple of the players who’ve helped make Michigan more offensive than last season