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The Face-Off Tackle Empire : The B1G and the Olympic Games

Former players on B1G teams who will be competing in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic hockey tournament.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

First up, let's take a look at the updated standings. Michigan has climbed another spot, and I must say, they looked fantastic at home last Friday night.

Minnesota 26 10 8 0 2 0 29 16 26 19 2 5 95 51
Michigan 17 8 5 2 1 1 24 21 22 13 6 3 62 49
16 10 5 4 1 0 32 26 24 14 8 2 80 65
Ohio State
13 10 4 5 1 0 31 27 24 14 9 1 87 65
Michigan State
12 10 2 5 3 3 19 23 25 8 13 4 55 59
Penn State
0 8 0 8 0 0 13 35 22 4 17 1 48 86

Well that thrilling Canada v USA gold medal game in Vancouver in 2010 is well in our rear-view mirrors, and in a week international rivalries will be renewed, I can't wait. I love Olympic hockey, and since the Canada Cup is no longer competed for, the Olympics is really the only full best-on-best tournament for national teams there is. Lucky for us, it's a fantastic brand of hockey.

Thinking about Olympic hockey got me all reminiscent about the 1980 Miracle on Ice. I am actually old enough to remember watching that USA vs. Soviet Union game. We were visiting some of my father's family in the Philadelphia area, and while my brothers and I were pretty young - I was 10 - we were all pretty big hockey fans already. Of course, we were mostly fans of team Canada, but my father at some point near the end of the first period kind of rounded us up from whatever we were doing and said, " You guys might want to watch this, this might be big history in the making", and boy oh boy was he right.

We can't forget that The University of Minnesota and The University of Wisconsin both played a huge part of that history, most notably former Gopher coach Herb Brooks. Before the tournament, his team of university players were much maligned and expected to lose to just about everyone, but Herb wouldn't listened to his critics and lead his boys to glory. I would be remiss if I didn't mention he also lead the USA to a silver medal in Salt Lake in 2002, just about a year and a half before his untimely death in 2003. R.I.P. Herb, you were one of the best ever.

The other guys on that 1980 USA squad were as follows:

From the Gophers: Mike Ramsey, Rob McClanahan, Bill Baker, Neal Broten, Steve Christoff, Steve Janaszak, Buzz Schneider, Eric Strobel and Phil Verchota

Wisconsin was represented by players: Mark Johnson and Bob Suter.

I figured I would take a look at the former players from B1G clubs competing in this years edition of the quest for hockey gold.


Phil Kessel, Paul Martin and Blake Wheeler will play for the USA

Thomas Vanek will play for Austria


Ryan McDonagh, Joe Pavelski, Derek Stapan and Ryan Suter will suit up for the Stars and Stripes. Also Former badger player Tony Granato will be a USA assistant coach.


Max Pacioretti will play for the USA, while Brian Lebler will play for Austria and Carl Hagelin will be pulling on the team Sweden colors.

Michigan State:

Ryan Miller will be one of the USA's goalies (A very good goalie unit to be sure). Duncan Keith will be winning gold for Canada, (see what I did there?)

Ohio State:

Ryan Kessler was named to team USA.

Penn State:

Players to be named in future Olympics. :)

We have three featured games this week.

Minnesota at Wisconsin, Thursday Feb 6. 8:30pm. TV : BTN

OSU at MSU, Friday Feb 7. 6:30pm TV : BTN

Minnesota at Wisconsin Friday Feb 7. 9:00pm. TV : BTN

I know on Friday, the lure of watching the Olympic opening ceremonies will be strong, but from everything I have heard and read, other than watching the teams march in, the rest will just be Vladimir Putin flexing shirtless in the middle of the stadium, and no needs to see that! Be sure to join us for some great B1G hockey action!