The three teams predicted to finish atop the Conference took care of business this weekend. Penn State and Minnesota are out in front with 6 points with Michigan right behind with 5. Wisconsin and Ohio State have to be hurting after a weekend where both teams held multi-goal leads at some point while on the road. Wisconsin collapsed on Friday and blew a late two goal lead on Saturday. If not for a last minute goal to force overtime, they would have been swept. There looks to be a lot of parity in the B1G this year. MSU still could not score in conference play, but Penn State solved Hildebrand both nights. If MSU can't find it's stalwart defense, they will be in for a long year.
I didn't watch either of these games ("writer" not "watcher") so I'll have to go off the box scores. Penn State jumped out to a commanding lead on Friday night with a 4 goal second period. MSU would add two late goals but never threatened. Reigning B1G Goaltender and player of the year, Jake Hildenbrand gave up 4 goals on 34 shots and did not come out for the third period. Back up Ed Minney stopped all 8 shots he faced in the third. Matthew Skoff was great in net stopping 31 of 33 shots faced. Penn State's potent offense was led by Andrew Sturtz (2G 1A).
Both teams started different goalies on Saturday: Ed Minney for MSU and Eamon McAdam for Penn State. Penn State erupted for three goals on 10 shots in the first, chasing Minney. Hildebrand would give up 3 more on 36 shots over the final two periods. Michigan State's lone goal came early in the second, cutting the Nitanny Lion lead to two. Penn State dominated at home, a venue where they are 9-2-1-0 in their last 12 conference games.
This is a weekend that Badger fans will like to forget. Wisconsin charged out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period Friday night. The Wolverines answered back with two quick goals. Wisconsin scored once more midway through the period, then their offense dried up. Michigan found the back of the net two more times in the second leaving the teams tied at 4. Michigan lit the lamp early in the third and added a late empty net goal to win the first of two back and forth games by a score of 6-4.
Saturday gave us another back and forth affair with each team scoring in bunches. Michigan jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but the Badger answered back with 2 power play goals. Michigan would get one more to close out the frame. Wisconsin would tie the game with an extra attacker during a delayed penalty then score twice more to take a 5-3 lead into the third. Michigan did not panic down two, scoring the first three goals of the third. Wisconsin scored their third power play goal of the game with 5 minutes to go, sending the game into overtime. Neither team scored in the 5 minute extra period so this game ended in a tie.
No I'm not forgetting anything.
What do you mean shootout?
Michigan won the extra point in the carnival game 2-1. This game counts as a tie for NCAA tournament qualification purposes. Shootouts are bad and should be banned. Conference points should not be decided in a garbage beauty pageant even if they are tons of fun to watch.
Neither team did much to help their goaltenders. If Michigan hasn't solved their defensive problems from last year, they will have trouble separating themselves from the pack. Wisconsin is a much improved team but will need to find a defense if they want to make noise in the conference race.
Ohio State fans will also want to forget this weekend after two heartbreaking losses in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes were able to take a 2-0 lead into the third period on Friday night, despite being out-shot 23-21. Minnesota's night turned around on a late penalty kill in the second period. Justin Kloos rang a shot off the cross bar early in the kill and the Gophers never looked back. Minnesota then dominated play in the third, out-shooting OSU 15-6. The dominate play earned the Gophers a couple of power plays which they capitalized on. Hudson Fasching scored the game winner 1:08 into overtime. Unlike in the NHL, you get no points for an OT loss. OSU had no answer for a desperate Gopher attack.
Tyler Sheehy opened the scoring for Minnesota 1 minute into the game. The Gophers controlled the period, out-shooting OSU 13-7 but couldn't add to their lead. The Buckeyes scored two quick goals to start the second and had their second lead of the series. The Gophers would tie the game up midway through the period. The OSU controlled the second period out-shooting Minnesota 17-12. The theme of the night on Saturday was early period goals. The Gophers scored twice in the first 3 minutes, once on the power play, to open up a 4-2 lead. It was Ohio State's turn to mount a furious come back, tying the game on a powerplay goal with the extra attacker with 27 seconds left on the clock. Ohio State looked to carry all of the momentum into OT but the Gophers responded with flurry of shots and rebound goal 1:21 into OT.
Ohio State played well enough to earn a split this weekend and were only a few bounces away from sweeping the Gophers. Minnesota seemed to have found their offense when needed and a strong desperation mode will help moving forward. The Gophers will need to be more disciplined as 9 Kills in 1 weekend is a lot to handle. Gopher fans are happy to take the 6 points but the team will need to play a better 60 minute game if they want to defend their crown and return to the NCAA Tournament.
UNO Mavericks @ St. Cloud State Huskies
Number 7 Omaha traveled to number 6 St. Cloud for a pair of NCHC games this weekend. St. Cloud won the first game 4-1 scoring the first and last two goals of the game. UNO responded with a 7-2 beatdown. The Mavericks dominated on the power play, converting 3 of 5 opportunities. The key to winning your conference is home sweeps and road splits so this was a very successful weekend for Omaha.
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 12/7/2015 @ 1 PM 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.
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: