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Big Ten Hockey Tournement Championship Preview & Open Thread

Minnesota and Michigan will meet for the second straight year in the championship game. Last year, the Wolverines needed to win to make the NCAAs and lost to Minnesota squad that had already locked up a spot. This year, the roles have reversed. Minnesota faces a win or go home situation at the Xcel Energy Center.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

General Updates

Gopher Women Hockey Advances to Championship Game

Gopher Women Hockey advanced to their fifth NCAA championship game in a row!  The number 3 Gophers beat the number 2 Badgers 3-2 in overtime and will face undefeated Boston College tomorrow afternoon.  Wisconsin led 2-1 going into the third period but Amanda Kessel tied the game early in the third and Sarah Potomak won the game on a great goal, where she picked a pocket on the fore check before potting the winner.  Go watch that video. Seriously, it's amazing.

Game 5

(2) Michigan Wolverines at (1) Minnesota Golden Gophers

Xcel Energy Center; St. Paul, MN
Saturday @ 8 et/7 ct on BTN/BTN2Go

Michigan blew out Penn State for the fifth time yesterday afternoon while the Gophers also beat Ohio State for the fifth time.  Michigan will be without defenseman Michael Downing for tonight's game as the Big Ten handed him a 1-game suspension in response to his game misconduct for hitting to the head against Penn State.  
Downing has been suspended multiple times this season and throughout his career.  This will thin Michigan's depth on an already mediocre defense.

These teams split the season series with Michigan blowing out the Gophers in the opening game of both series and the Gophers winning by one in each rematch.  If Minnesota can play a defensively sound game, and take advantage of Michigan's overly aggressive D, they will have a shot to hang another banner and continue their season in the NCAAs.  If they can't contain Michigan's potent offense, Michigan will run away with the tournament crown.  Michigan looked great on Friday, while Minnesota improved greatly as their game Ohio State progressed.

Michigan will lock up a 2 seed with a win, but drop to a 3 with a loss.  The Wolverines are looking to knock the Gophers out and return the favor for last year.  Minnesota's season is on the line and I expect a better crowd tonight.  Minnesota has given up the first goal in 8 of their last 10 games but I expect that to change tonight.  I think the Gophers grind out a win in a great battle, reminiscent of their last meeting of the regular season.

My Pick: MI 2 - 3 MN
KRACH: MI 61.82% - 38.18% MN