I was fortunate enough to get a press pass to cover the Minnesota-Wisconsin game Saturday night. It was a really cool experience. You can find my game recap over at The Daily Gopher. I will be posting an article describing the experience later this week, too.
Both games in this series were on BTN Plus so I wasn't able to watch any of Friday but I had limited access in the Kohl Center Press Box. Penn State started Matthew Skoff in net Friday night and he rewarded coach Guy Gadowsky with an overtime win. This is Penn States third consecutive Friday OT win. The Lions scored first but found themselves trailing 2-1 after 2. A later equalizer forced overtime where Alec Marsh netted the winner. Ohio State equaled Penn State's 40 shots.
Eamon McAdam got the start in net for Penn State on Saturday but he was bested by Ohio State's Christian Frey. OSU opened the scoring early in the first then added two more in the second. Eric Scheid broke the shutout early in the third but a powerplay goal and an empty net goal put this game out of reach. Ohio State won 5-1 while being outshot 34-30.
This was a similar weekend for Penn State to their Minnesota series. They won a close OT game on Friday, only to be blown out on Saturday. Penn State has played the worst schedule in the B1G to date (41st out of 60 in KRACH) and are no longer more talented than their opposition. Close wins and blow out losses suggest that the Nittany Lions are regressing and that their stellar non-con record didn't mean a whole lot. That said, Penn State was able to earn a road split and road points have been hard to come by for them. Ohio State continues its improved play since the holiday break. The Buckeye's would have liked a home sweep and have now lost 3 overtime games in conference play. OSU heads to East Lansing next weekend to close out the first half while PSU hosts Michigan on Thursday then hosts them at the Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday.
The Gophers traveled to Madison and came away with their first road sweep over the Badgers in a decade. Minnesota got on the board with a powerplay goal late in the first period. Each team put up 12 shots but the Gophers had the better scoring chances. Minnesota connected twice more in the second, once short handed to extend their lead to 3. Schierhorn was great in the period stopping all 13 shots he faced. The Gophers didn't have as many shots but buried their scoring opportunities. The Gophers were content to sit back and prevent any offense for Wisconsin in the third and eventually added a 4th goal with about a minute left in the game. The Gophers went 1-5 on the PP while killing all three Badger opportunities. This game had a lot of high and late hits that weren't called. Minnesota was out-shot 29-25 but many of Wisconsin's chances were from lower danger areas.
The One Where InsertName Gets A Press Pass
The One Where InsertName Gets A Press Pass
You can catch my full recap of Saturday's game over at The Daily Gopher. I was lucky enough to get a press pass for this game and it was an amazing experience. I didn't cheer once, even though there was plenty for me to cheer about!. I was lucky enough to watch the post game interviews, if I can figure out a good way to post clips from those, I'll get them up. (GoAUpher: Done, see below)
Minnesota smothered Wisconsin this weekend. The Gophers are a young team gelling at the right time while the Badgers can't catch a break. The Gophs scored a lot of goals where the puck had eyes. Wisconsin's defense hung Jurusik (and Miller) out to dry many times, but the Gophs had about 5 goals from long distance through lots of traffic.
I was really disappointed by the dirty hits that Wisconsin made Saturday night. Tyler Novak was the recipient of two of them and was eventually knocked out cold by a flying shoulder from Eddie Wittchow. Wittchow lined him up, then exploded into Novak, driving his shoulder up through Novak's head. Novak eventually skated off the ice under his own power but he did not return.
Tommy Novak took a huge hit from Eddie Wittchow, was helped off the ice. Wittchow ejected pic.twitter.com/IW6ZOv64ji— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 24, 2016
Michael Brodzinski recorded a hat trick in the third period, the first Gopher D-man to do so in a long time. Minnesota's goalie, Eric Schierhorn, recorded the first point of his career, getting the second assist on Justin Kloos' first period goal.
Minnesota has won 5 in a row and 9 of 12. The Gophers took 24 of their first 30 conference points to put them into first. The Gophers will play in the North Star College Cup at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul next weekend. Minnesota plays Bemidji State on Saturday and either (5)St. Cloud or (20)Mankato on Sunday. Wisconsin has lost 4 in a row and is 0-5-1 in its last 6. The Badgers host Alaska next Friday and Saturday. The Badgers only earned 6 points in the first half and have accumulated the least amount of points of all teams in the 2.5 year history of the B1G. That's a huge drop off for the team that finished second two years ago with 40 points.
Miami-OH @ (7) Nebraska Omaha
I promise that I'll stop picking UNO to sweep at home. This is the second time they were swept at home after I predicted they would sweep. Sorry. UNO never led in this series and was destroyed 7-3 on Saturday. Another tough weekend in the NCHC. UNO travels to Colorado Springs next weekend for a pair of games with Colorado College.
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 1/24/2016 @ 7 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. The elimination numbers are a bit wonky due to Penn State playing two less games than everyone but having the highest max points.
Points earned by team on the left are shown in the boxes. Now that we are almost halfway through the conference season, I will use the standings to determine the layout of the table instead of alphabetical order.
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:
And how teams are doing compared to the KRACH expectations:
Minnesota continues to completely outplay its KRACH projections. Minnesota had a bad start in non-conference play but have won 9 of 12. The numbers are starting to reflect that as the Gophers now have the second highest rating in the B1G. Michigan losing a point to Wisconsin is still sort of surprising. Wisconsin struggling to maintain leads is the biggest reason they have under performed.