The theme last week was home ice dominance. The road teams fought back earning two splits while Penn State was able to hold off a furious Princeton comeback Friday night. Ohio State and Omaha were off this weekend. Minnesota goes into the Winter Break leading the conference at 9 points and has to be happy to salvage a split after an utter collapse on Friday night. Michigan is second with 8 points and would have liked to take more than three in a home series against the Gophers. Penn State wits 3 back of the lead with 2 games in hand. The Nittany Lions should feel confident as they can earn more total points than the Gophers and lead the league in KRACH ratings by a decent margin. Wisconsin finally figured out how to defend a lead on Saturday, one night after blowing multiple two-goal leads and sits in fourth with four points. MSU should feel better since Jake Hildebrand had a much better weekend stopping 54 of 60 shots. Those numbers aren't up to his dominance of the last two years, but are trending in the right direction. The Spartans are fifth with three points. OSU is the only squad without any points in conference play but has 2 games in hand on the teams above.
In what looked to be an even matchup, the Badgers and Spartans did not disappoint. Wisconsin jumped out to an early 2-0 lead Friday night at Munn Arena. The Badgers would pull ahead 3-1 midway through the second on a Matthew Freytag goal. Michigan State responded quickly with two goals in the next 5 minutes. The Spartans would add a fourth goal with 3:57 left in the game to take three points. Shots on goal were nearly identical, 33-32 in Wisconsin's favor. The Badgers blew a multi-goal lead for the third straight game but responded on Saturday.
After a scoreless first, the Badgers scored three times over the second period and never looked back. Matt Jurusik earned the shutout win and Wisconsin finally defended a multiple-goal lead in a conference game. The win moved the Badgers back into 4th place. The shots were again close with the Spartans leading 28-27. Neither team's power play scored on the weekend. The Badgers went 0-3 while the Spartans went 0-6 including 0-5 on Saturday.
The Gophers and Wolverines faced off in Ann Arbor. This series was supposed to be a battle between two preseason favorites to determine the early leader. Friday night started off with a bang as Michigan scored 16 seconds into the game only to give up the tying goal 14 seconds later. The Wolverines took a 2-1 lead into the second period. The Gophers controlled much of the first ten minutes of the second period and were able to tie the game on a power play goal. Michigan decided enough was enough and scored twice in the next minute. Eric Schierhorn's night was over after giving up 4 goals on 14 shots. Kyle Connor would score his second goal of the night to push the lead to 5-2. Two minutes later, Hudson Fasching would pot his second goal to cut the lead to two. Unfortunately for the Minnesota faithful, the Gophers had nothing left in the tank. Michigan would score three more goals, capped off by Connor's hat trick, winning 8-3. The Gopher defense was continually exposed and the goalies couldn't come up with enough saves. Minnesota out-shot Michigan 25-24, but couldn't match Michigan's finishing ability.
One night after being humiliated, the Gophers came back with a solid, disciplined effort. Two late period goals gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Kyle Connor continued his incredible weekend with a goal midway through the second and a game tying goal early in the third. Unlike Friday, the Gophers were able to turn a 2-2 tie game into a win. Vinni Lettieri scored the game winner twelve seconds after Connor tied the game and the Gophers held on over the final 18 minutes to earn the split. Michigan out shot Minnesota 35-33 in a very tight game but Schierhorn stood tall for the Maroon and Gold. The key to winning your conference is to sweep at home and split on the road. So far Minnesota has done just that and takes the conference lead into the break. Gopher fans have to be happy to have earned a split after the disaster on Friday.
Princeton Tigers @ Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State was in total control of this game over the first 40 minutes, scoring 4 goals (2 PPG and 1 SHG), giving up none, and out shooting the Tigers 33-13. Princeton came out swinging in the third period, scoring 3 goals in the first 8 minutes to make this a one score game. Tommy Olczyk found the empty net to complete his hat trick with just under a minute to go while Curtis Loik sealed the win with another empty netter giving Penn State a 6-3 win. Colton Phinney almost did enough to keep Princeton in the game, but the potent Penn State offense was too much to handle for the Tigers.
Ohio State Buckeyes & UNO Mavericks
Both teams were off this weekend.
An overtime loss counts as a loss and no points are earned. If both teams are tied after the five minute OT period, the game goes down as a tie and both teams earn a point. A shootout follows a tie with the winner earning a second point. A shootout "win" counts as a tie, not a win in the standings and for NCAA Tournament seeding purposes. Total wins are used as the primary tie-breaker. If teams have the same number of wins, head to head record is used.
KRACH Ratings, KRACH Rank, Pairwise Rank
Update on 12/14/2015 @ 1 AM EST
There are 60 teams in college hockey. The pairwise is an approximation of the selection process for the NCAA tournament (click link for explanation). The top 16 teams are selected for the tourney. Conference tournament champions get auto-bids so teams rated near 16 can be displaced if a lower ranked team wins it's conference tournament.
Points, Elimination numbers, KRACH Projections, and Last Years Points
Change in expected conference wins:
I expect the volatility to greatly decrease once we get to February. We are still early enough in the season where KRACH will have wild swings due to lack of games played. Once you can draw a path connecting all teams, the numbers stabilize. The elimination numbers are a bit wonky due to Penn State playing two less games than everyone but having the highest max points. I'll look into my spreadsheet after work slows down this week.
Points earned by team on the left are shown in the boxes
Green boxes mean that the team in the row is ahead of the team in the column. Red means the team in the column is ahead. Blue means the teams have split points. Once a season series is completed, the color will be darker, the points will be bold, and the box will have a thicker border. Column on the right shows the points gained by a team. Row on the bottom shows the points lost by a team.
KRACH Projection Review
Let's see how the projections went this week:
|Team||KRACH Projection||My Prediction||Actual||Updated KRACH|
And how teams are doing compared to the KRACH expectations: