Before we get started I just have to mention the passing of the legendary Mike Ilitch. Growing up as a Red Wings fan, his leadership of the franchise ensured that I would grow up a very spoiled fan of the Wings. As an Orioles fan, my favorite baseball memory actually comes from watching Magglio Ordonez send the Tigers to the World Series on a crisp Autumn night. I was about to leave for a late hockey practice when Maggs blasted that fateful homerun. In the words of Brad Pitt in Moneyball, “how can you not be romantic about baseball?” Some of my best childhood memories also stem from Mom stopping at Little Caesar’s on the way home from hockey practice to grab a few pies for a quick meal on a school night. To this day, I will take that pizza over any other chain in America. It would more than suffice to say that Mr. Ilitch was truly one of the great people from the state of Michigan. Mr. Ilitch also exemplified one of the qualities that I have grown to love about people from Michigan in my short time here; Mike loved Michigan, he loved being from Michigan and he was proud of the state that raised him. He loved Detroit and this damn good state. Thank you for the memories and rest in peace Mr. Ilitch.
Alright, now let’s talk about some college hockey.
After a heartbreaking loss on Friday night and an overall tough past week, the Spartan hockey team gave us a reason to be proud. Even a late goal from Michigan that denied the Spartans a shutout on the season could not keep me down. I was so excited for this team. This team needed that dominant win, and dammit, we needed it too. I understand that this is not the most popular sport on campus, nor does this win give us any reason to forget any of what has happened or what is to come. But on Saturday night, we simply got to enjoy a win. Not only did MSU win, they came out and dominated the Wolverines on the road. Once again, I was unable to get the game, but I was able to follow it and I was ecstatic for the entire ride.
MSU outshot Michigan 14-5 in the opening frame but could not capitalize. Michigan would not capitalize on any of their chances either.
In the second period, the fun began. State would find three goals and Michigan would not answer a single one of them. The first two goals came from defensemen Rhett Holland and Zach Osburn. The third would come courtesy of a Taro Hirose short-handed tally.
The Spartans took a 3-0 lead into the third period and were the dominant force through the first 40 minutes. 55 seconds into the final frame, Mason Appleton would find the twine on another short-handed goal. Michigan would finally find the back of the net with ten seconds left in the tilt, denying John Lethemon the affirmation of a shutout on what was a Phenomenal (hell yeah with a capital “P”) in net.
MSU went 0-5 on the power play, that is still a problem. However, Michigan only converted on one of their eight chances. That is a very impressive mark. This was a desperately needed win.
In a week that saw a not so impressive result from the basketball team in Ann Arbor, it was awesome to see the boys step up and grab a win on Saturday. Let’s go out and get two more against the Buckeyes next weekend.
Predicting the Buckeyes
Ohio State has been the most recent Big Ten team to run into inconsistency. MSU is coming off of an emotional win on the road. Coming back to East Lansing, I would love to see MSU pounce on an OSU team that may be looking ahead to their upcoming series against Michigan.
MSU’s focus should be in the right place. OSU could get caught in a mix of looking ahead as well as play that has recently lacked consistency. I’m gonna go bold this week and predict a sweep for the Spartans. If Lethemon sees both starts, I can see this team building on what should have been a sweep this past weekend.
Regardless of what happens with the current predicaments MSU could be in, this hockey team can give us something to rally around. The talent is there, the hunger is there. MSU has the advantage of a home series, let’s win these two games and have a very optimistic hockey recap next weekend.
Around the conference
Minnesota rebounded from a Friday night loss to beat Ohio State on Saturday, they still lead the Big Ten.
Penn State won both games by three goals, earning a sweep on the road in Madison over the Badgers. This is exactly what Penn State needed after a real bad stretch.
Notre Dame swept Maine and they are starting to heat up. I still don’t think they’re as good as the top-3 in the Hockey East, but they’re gonna be a tough out in the Hockey East Tournament.
Around the country
Air Force whooped American International 5-0 on Friday only to tie 3-3 on Saturday. American International is real bad. Air Force should be a tournament team no matter what. Though, there’s no reason to believe their game is gonna go to hell anyways.
Providence played once and won once again, 4-3 over Uconn. Providence continues to play great hockey. They also played Uconn last Wednesday, and won that contest 4-1. Providence has won thirteen of their last sixteen games. They’ve got a huge series on the road against Notre Dame coming up.
Western Michigan split with Nebraska-Omaha.
Denver Swept Colorado College in a home-home series. Denver is VERY good. I think they’re the team to beat aside from Boston University.
Northern Michigan swept Alaska without allowing a goal. They’re still a big-time long-shot for the tournament.
Ferris State and Michigan Tech split.
WCHA regular-season champ Bemidji State scraped by Alabama-Huntsville 3-2 on Friday. On Saturday, Huntsville triumphed 5-2.
Bowling Green snapped a three-game skid, beating Mercyhurst 3-0.
I thought this was worth mentioning; the first time that Northeastern won the Beanpot was 1980 (yes, that 1980). On Monday, they upset (11) Boston College in the consolation game of the Beanpot. Huge win for Northeastern.
I went into the title game expecting a more talented Boston Terriers team to beat Harvard. Don’t get me wrong, I think Harvard is a great team. I just think that Boston is at another level.
Harvard came out and matched Boston every step of the way. Harvard would end up pulling away in the third period and beating the Terriers 6-3. Harvard had not won the Beanpot in 24 years! In one of the truly great tournaments in all of amateur sports, a huge storyline formulated. Harvard had not won since 1993. They flipped the script, came out and dominated on scoring chances in the third period. Regardless of how well Boston played, Harvard created and capitalized. Boston failed to capitalize on their numerous chances in the third.
Last off, hats off to Harvard. They played a helluva third period. In a battle of top-5 teams, Harvard came out on top. These teams seem to be the class of the Hockey East right now. However, BC, Providence and Notre Dame are all right there.
This tournament could be the most fun.