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Face Off Tackle Empire // Weekend Roundup 2/14/16

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The top three teams took to the road this weekend and came out with 16 of 18 points. Minnesota swept Ohio State and is now all alone in first place. Michigan dropped a point to Wisconsin and Penn State dropped a point to Michigan State leaving them 1 and 7 points behind the Gophers respectively. Wisconsin and Michigan State were mathematically eliminated from both the Conference Title and a first round bye in the B1G Tournament.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Weekend Review

The rich got richer and the poor got eliminated.

(16) Penn State Nittany Lions @ Michigan State Spartans

PSU 2 (1) 2 (0) MSU

Penn State ground Michigan State into submission Friday night at Munn Ice Arena.  The Nittany Lions scored twice in each period and only gave up one goal in the second.  Matthew Skoff got the win in net for Penn State while JAke Hildebrand's 43 saves weren't enough to keep the Spartans in it.  There were 5 penalties and 4 power plays for each team with Penn State scoring the only power play goal.  The Spartans were out-shot 49-29.

Michigan State played much better on Saturday night, earning a 2-2 tie.  Penn State won the shootout 1-0, earning the third point.  Shots were nearly even (37-36 for Penn State) and it was another penalty fest.  Penn State committed 8 penalties to Michigan States 5.  Each team scored once with the man advantage.

Penn State continues to collect points on the road this year but lost a point in the standings to Minnesota.  The Nittany Lions host Ohio State next weekend while Michigan State heads to Madison.  Rumors were that Tom Anastos needs to finish 4th or higher to keep his job.  The Spartans are only 2 points out of 4th but the Buckeyes and Badgers have 2 games in hand each.  Penn State is 14th in the PairWise but would likely not be safe as the top teams in the WCHA and AHA are below 16 and the B1G-leading Gophers are 16th.  Penn State needs to split with Michigan and win out and likely at least one win in the B1G tourney to make the field.  Them's the breaks when your non-con schedule is so poor.

Minnesota Golden Gophers @ Ohio State Buckeyes

MN 5 4 OSU
MN 4 3 OSU

These teams gave us four entertaining games this year. The Gophers won all 4 by a single goal, three of which came in overtime.  The Gophers started Friday night off fairly well but a lapse in the defensive zone gave Ohio State's Christian Lampasso an easy tap-in goal. The Gophers would tie the game in the final 30 seconds of the period on a Justin Kloos goal.  The second period was all Minnesota but the Gophers would only score once, taking a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.  Ohio State bounced back in the third scoring two power play goals in the opening 4 minutes of the third stanza, giving them the lead. The Gophers tied the game up a minute or so later and then we were treated to fire wagon hockey for most of the period.  The Goalies were phenomenal, stopping odd man rushes and breakaways until Tyler Sheehy put the Gophers up 4-3 with under 3 to go.  OSU would pull Christian Frey in the fianl minute and scored with less than a second left.  There was a long scrum in the corner and the puck pooped out in front of the net.  Eric Schierhorn appeared to make the game winning save but the rebound was slammed in just before the clock hit 0.0.  For the third time, these teams were headed to OT.  Justin Kloos made sure Minnesota would leave the ice with all 3 points, beating Frey high blocker on a one timer from the slot.

Saturday turned into another close game even if the Gophers did everything they could to build a large lead.  Minnesota opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal midway through the first. A late tally would open the lead to 2 at the first break.  No goals were scored until the final 6 minutes of the second seeing Minnesota push the lead to 3 for all of 18 seconds before OSU would get one back.  Nearly two minutes later, the lead was back to 3.  OSU scored twice in the first 10 or so minutes of the third period to cut the lead to 1, but the Gophers would not give up the tying goal, avoiding overtime for the first time in 4 games against the Buckeyes.

Minnesota swept OSU in Columbus for the first time in B1G play and swept the season series.  A few bounces the other way and OSU could have taken 9 of the 12 points.  That swing would drop the Gophers into third and bring OSU within 5 points of a first round bye.  For whatever reason, the Gophers had the Buckeyes number.  Minnesota moved into sole possession of first place with the sweep as Michigan failed to take all 6 points from Wisconsin. The Gophers are in a tie for 16th in the Pairwise and can work their way up the bubble but will need to at least split with Michigan and then sweep both of MSU and Wisconsin.  OSU heads to Penn State next weekend while Minnesota is off.

(6) Michigan Wolverines @ Wisconsin Badgers

MI 4 1 WI
MI 4 (1) 4 (0) WI

Michigan won comfortably Friday night.  Tyler Motte scored the first goal, but Wisconsin was able to tie it up before the end of the first period.  The Badger goal was reviewed and held up even though it was clearly not a good goal.  The Michigan net was lifted up, but not totally off the pegs, and the puck slide around goaltender Steve Racine's skate and into the net.  Normally that's not a problem, but the puck crossed under the side of the net, outside of the peg and should have been waived off.  This blown call cost Racine a shutout, but ultimately did not hurt the Wolverines. Michigan controlled the rest of the game, out shooting the Badgers 32-15 in the final 40 minutes.  The Wolverines would score once in the second and again early in the third before adding an empty net goal with 24 seconds left.

The Badgers were up to the task on Saturday, out-shooting the electric Michigan offense 44-33 en-route to a 4-4 tie.  Michigan would again score the first goal, a late first period shorty from Tyler Motte (he's pretty good).  The Badgers would knot it up less than a minute into the second period.  The Wolverines and Badgers would trade goals the rest of the period, ending the second tied at 2.  JT Compher put the Wolverines up 15 seconds into the third, but Ryan Wagner tied it up 29 seconds later.  Dexter Dancs gave Michigan their fourth lead of the game on a delayed penalty call with just under ten minutes to go.  Wisconsin pulled goalie Matt Jurusik and, again, tied the game with 27 seconds left.  Neither team could score in the overtime period so we got to watch another skills competition determine conference points.  The Wolverines scored the only goal in the shootout to earn the extra point.

Michigan won both shootouts against Wisconsin this year, but those two lost points may come back to haunt the wolverines.  Michigan fell one point behind Minnesota but still has two games left to jump back in front.  The Badgers salvaged a point but could have taken at least six of the points against Michigan, if not more.  Friday night was the only game the Badgers didn't have a chance in and pushed the Wolverines to two shootouts.  The Badgers were eliminated from the Conference title and a first round bye in the B1G Tournament.  Michigan is off next weekend while the Badgers host the Spartans in a battle between the bottom two teams.

Western Michigan Broncos @ (12) Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks


I finally got a home sweep right for the Mavs!  UNO won a hard fought game on Friday opening the scoring with a beautiful shorthanded goal and then extending their lead to two on a  4x3 power play. Western Michigan would score to make it close, but couldn't tie the game.  UNO was out-shot 29-25, but capitalized in special teams play to earn the win.

The teams traded goals in the first period Saturday night leading to a 2-2 tie at the first break.  UNO was able to score another shorthanded goal.  A three goal outburst for the Mavericks turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-1 lead.  Western Michigan would score first in the third, but UNO would get that goal back, winning comfortably.

UNO finally got a home sweep, after being swept the last two times I predicted that.  The Mavs are in a tie for 8th in the pairwise ut lose the tie breaker and slot in at 9th after the weekend.  This would leave them as the top 3-seed in the NCAA tournament.  UNO is in a tie for 4th in the NCHC with UMD and hosts St. Cloud State next weekend.

Conference Standings

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 2/14/2016 @ 6 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 points:

MN +2.19
MI -0.27
PSU +0.58
OSU -2.44
MSU -0.30
MSU +0.25

Conference Table

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:

PSU 4.63 3 5 4.65
MSU 1.36 3 1 1.35
MN 4.12 6 6 4.35
OSU 1.88 0 0 1.65
MI 5.02 6 5 4.96
WI 0.98 0 1 1.04
WMU 1.70 0 0 1.49
UNO 4.30 6 6 4.51

And how teams are doing compared to the KRACH expectations: