Two splits and lots of great hockey highlighted the first weekend of the second half.
The Spartans and the Wolverines opened the weekend at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The teams played to a scoreless first period. MSU out-shot their rival 12-9 in the first and survived a few Michigan rushes. Joe Cox of MSU was awarded a penalty shot while killing a penalty midway through the second. He converted on a pretty move, giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead. Six minutes later, Tyler Motte scored to tie the game. MSU survived the second period tied, but Tyler Motte scored his second goal with 11 minutes to go in the game. Joe Cox answered 4 minutes later with his second of the game. Neithe team could score the rest of the way. Overtime was all MSU. The Spartans took all 5 of the extra periods shots, winning on a power play goal from Matt DeBlouw. This was a sloppy game with 12 penalties and 11 total power plays. The only successful power play resulted in a game winning goal. Michigan State survived Michigan's never ending rushes and was able to establish their own zone time. Hildebrand was a brick wall and looked like the reigning B1G player of the year. The Spartans won the first ever "Iron D" which will be awarded to the winner of the game in Detroit on an annual basis.
The followed up on Saturday in East Lansing. The Wolverines would not leave Munn Ice Arena without avenging their loss. Michigan started fast and furious, putting 20 shots on goal in the first period. Unfortunately, they only led 1-0. Michigan State responded with 17 shots in the second, but Michigan extended their lead to 2 going into the third. Two early third period goals gave Michigan a 4-0 lead. Villiam Haag would score for Michigan State, but Steve Racine shut the door the rest of the way.
Michigan State's win was their 7th on the season and second over the last two weekends. It will be intersting to see if they can maintain some momentum at home against Penn State next weekend. The Wolverines salvaged the weekend with a split. The loss means the Wolverines could not take sole possession of first, but other losses in the top 8 mean they only drop two spots in the Pairwaise to 6.
Friday night was all Minnesota. The Gophers out-shot Penn State 43-32 and won 4-1. The Gophers scored a minute into the game and had the better of the play. Penn State fought their way back and eventually tied the game midway through the period. Penn State appeared to score a goal to go up 2-1 but it was correctly waved off due to a Penn State forward laying on Eric Schierhorn for 3 seconds. The Gophers scored in the final minute of the period to take a 2-1 lead. Penn State was skating well in the first but the big ice began to take its toll in the second period. Minnesota out shot Penn State 19-11 in the second and scored another goal. The third period was a little more desperate as Penn State began throwing everything they could on net. The Gophers would add a fourth goal during 4v4 play. The Gophers were fortunate to not be called for a cross check that cleared the ice in front of the crease moments before the goal was scored.
Saturday night was a different story. The Nittany Lions controlled much of the play in the first period and seemed to have half a step on the Gophers. Minnesota could not connect on many passes and seemed to pull up too early on zone entries. Minnesota out-shot Penn State 12-8 in the first but many were from safe areas and Eamon McAdam stood tall on the Grade A chances. Penn State scored midway through the period and held that lead through one. Penn State continued to control play, scoring a power play goal six minutes into the second. Minnesota looked to have scored a goal, but it was cleared off the goal line before fully crossing. The Gopher finally found some life scoring twice in a two minute stretch, once on the power play. The tie was short lived as Penn State regained the lead about a minute after the Gophers tied. Justin Kloos tied the game with a shorthanded goal in the final minute of the period. Minnesota was in complete control for the third period and looked to score what could have been a game winning goal on a 5 on 2 rush. Guy Gadowsky challenged the call on the ice and it was ruled that Minnesota entered the zone offsides. The offending Gopher was maybe six inches offsides and it likely cost them the game. Penn State dug in and starting launching counter attacks to Minnesota's controlled zone pressure. Penn State got away with one egregious trip and one borderline trip in succession, leading to a 2 on 1 that was saved. Penn State scored off the ensuing face off with 3:51 remaining in the game. The Gophers pulled Schierhorn but could score and Penn State iced the game with an empty net goal. The Goalies were great in this game. Both teams could have scored 6 plus goals on the night.
Penn State earned a huge road split. This was their first win in team history at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers have to be very disappointed with a split. This is only their second loss on home ice in the 2.5 years of B1G play. Minnesota can't afford to not show up for 20 minutes and win, they also can't let tough breaks get to them. After their go ahead goal was waved off, Penn State was able to catch the Gophers on their heels. The split means Penn State is still alive in the conference title race and for a first round bye. It also bumps Penn State back onto the right side of the bubble. Minnesota can't afford to lose or tie to anyone not named Michigan the rest of the way or else they will need to win the B1G Tournament. For the second time this year, Eamon McAdam stole a game from Minnesota while Matthew Skoff was beaten handily.
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 2/8/2016 @ 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
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: