Just two weeks remain before the No. 16 Michigan hockey team kicks off Big Ten conference play in December against Penn State. At this point in the season, each of the teams in the conference have had a chance to establish a résumé. Here, we break down their preseason results in preparation for the upcoming Big Ten season.
No. 7 Minnesota
The Golden Gophers are ranked seventh in the nation this week, even though they’ve played just eight games so far this season. They’re saddled with a 4-2-2 record, suffering both of their losses at the hands of No. 12 St. Cloud State.
However, one of Minnesota’s most redeeming qualities that has been evident so far this year is the depth on its roster. Four different players have scored four goals each over the course of eight games, with 13 of the 21 players on the roster recording at least one goal.
No. 10 Penn State
Not only have the Nittany Lions made program history with their highest-ever ranking in the USCHO poll this week, but senior captain David Goodwin also became the first Penn State player to reach 100 career goals. The Nittany Lions are currently holding on to a seven-game win streak and have an overall record of 9-1-1.
Penn State boasts an .864 win percentage for the season, the best in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions will host Michigan in the teams’ first pair of conference games in two weeks, and if their current position holds, they’ll be putting forth the second-best offense in the country and a defense tied for fourth.
No. 14 Ohio State
Like Penn State, Ohio State has only recorded one loss this season, a 6-2 game agaist Robert Morris. Also like Penn State, the Buckeyes have played 11 games so far, racking up a 6-1-4 record. Their penchant for ties isn’t exactly helping them move up in the polls, but it hasn’t hurt them either. They were ranked at the same spot last week.
The Buckeyes have plenty of seniority on their team, and they recently had two senior forwards receive weekly honors stemming from their performances against Connecticut last week. Nick Schilkey is currently tied for second in the NCAA in goals and recently tallied the 100th of his career, while David Gust scored four goals in a single game. Their contributions have helped Ohio State’s offense establish itself as one of the best in the country.
The Badgers have only played eight games so far this season, like Minnesota, but they’ve tacked on an additional win and loss for a mark of 5-3-0. Even though it possesses the exact same win percentage as the Gophers (.625), Wisconsin is still unranked in the polls.
This can mostly be attributed to its struggling defense, which is currently ranked 48th. Despite the fact that the Gophers are tied for 10th in offense, their struggling defense — which let up a combined eight goals in two losses to Northern Michigan — has held them back.
Michigan State rounds out the bottom of the Big Ten, with twice as many losses as wins (3-6-0). It suffered a pair of one-sided losses (6-1 and 7-3) against Lake Superior State, whom the Wolverines will face after their next exhibition against the U.S. National Team Development Program. The Spartans have also lost two games to No. 1 Denver and one game each to Michigan Tech and Ferris State.
However, both of Michigan State’s losses to Denver (7-2-1) were particularly low-scoring. The first game ended with the then-No. 6 Pioneers scraping out a 2-1 victory, where all three goals were scored in the third period. The second game settled at 3-1. Considering their less-than-flattering record, the Spartans’ solid performance against the top-ranked team in the country is one of the few silver linings of their season so far.