Unfortunately, I had to follow Saturday night’s game from my post behind the cash register at 7/11. MSU played a much better game than they did Friday. Lethemon started between the pipes for the Spartans and played the whole game. This was a warranted change that seemed to spark the rest of the roster to a stronger night.
Luke Kunin would begin the scoring for Wisconsin on a short-handed goal for the Badgers which could have been a signal for another dismal effort from the Spartans. However, Michigan State would respond with a resilient effort in the second period starting with a goal from Arizona Coyotes prospect Rhett Holland. At the 15:51 mark of the period, Joe Cox would make it a 2-1 Spartan advantage. MSU would take this lead into the locker room heading into the third period.
By the 11:05 mark, Wisconsin would claim a 3-2 lead. MSU has struggled offensively all season and desperately needed a goal to at least tie the game and grab one point for the weekend. With just over a minute to play, East Lansing native Brennan Sanford would find the back of the net on the extra-attacker opportunity. Regulation would end at 3-3. However, just one minute and 34 seconds into overtime, Wisconsin would lock up the road sweep. A resilient effort by the Spartans would fall short of salvaging another lost weekend.
Around the conference
Michigan clung to a one-goal lead heading into the locker room after 40 minutes. Ohio State dominated the third, found two goals and left Ann Arbor with a series split, 6-5.
For the second night in a row, Minnesota crushed Penn State and now has a stranglehold on the Big Ten. The 5-2 victory was about as decisive as Friday night’s 5-1 decision was.
Notre Dame beat Vermont 4-1. Honestly, I’m still not sure what to make of Notre Dame. But they certainly are not as good as BC or BU.
Around the country
The Beanpot tournament starts on Monday night. Two of America’s best teams will face off when Boston College takes on Boston University at TD Garden at 8 PM Eastern time. That game will be preceded by fifth-ranked Harvard taking on Northeastern at 5 pm Eastern time. The Beanpot is one of the truly great sporting events in collegiate athletics and if you get the chance, definitely give it a watch. Especially since three potential Frozen Four teams will be competing.
Providence secured a sweep over Maine and continues to build momentum through the home stretch of the season. I see Providence as the third-best team in the Hockey East and ultimately the only team capable of contending with BC and BU for the Hockey East championship.
Air Force won 5-1 over Bentley securing their second straight sweep. No surprises there, and they have now won their last four games and eleven of their last fourteen.
Western Michigan tied Arizona State at home. Arizona State has proven to be a tough out in only their second year as a varsity program with splits on the road against Quinnipiac and Western Michigan the last two weeks.
Northern Michigan finished off a phenomenal weekend with another shutout of Bowling Green, this time 2-0. Friday night’s win was 3-0. Northern is still in the midst of a rough season at 9-17-4.
Michigan Tech was swept by Bemidji State. They should fall out of the national rankings for now, but they still hold the second-best conference record in the WCHA behind Bemidji State.
Next weekend in the Big Ten
On Friday, MSU will take on Michigan at Joe Louis Arena for the final time (barring a meeting in the Big Ten tournament). That will be followed up with a Saturday Night field trip to Ann Arbor. Michigan had a strong showing against a good Ohio State team, and Michigan State came within a goal of splitting with an inconsistent Wisconsin team. I think that this is currently the Big Ten’s biggest rivalry, so I’ll go ahead and throw predictions out the window. I hope we go out and win both games. Hell, this program and fan base needs it right now. I hope to be at the Joe to provide updates.
Minnesota will visit Ohio State. Minnesota has played great hockey recently and given the result of their Penn State series this weekend; I can see Minnesota continuing that play. I’ll predict a Minnesota sweep and hope that I am wrong.
Penn State will stay on the road against Wisconsin. Wisconsin was clearly the better team in East Lansing this past weekend, and Penn State will be the most desperate team in Madison next weekend. I think that Penn State gets back on track and at the least earns a split. A sweep in either direction would be huge for either program. If either team were to earn a sweep, I would wager Penn State.
Notre Dame travels to Maine, and they will play once on Friday as well as once on Saturday. Notre Dame has been average in Hockey East play, and Maine has been abysmal. I mostly put these updates here to give us a feel for what we’ll see from the Irish next year.
Next weekend around the country
Michigan Tech will host Ferris State, who is experiencing a down year.
Northern Michigan will host Alaska.
Lake Superior State will host Alaska-Anchorage (Anchorage is home to Scott Gomez, owner of one of the worst all-time contracts in NHL history).
The Beanpot tournament will finish up early next week.
Air Force will host a hapless American International team. The Falcons should extend their current win streak.
Robert Morris, who is Air Force’s primary competition in the Atlantic, will host Bentley. Bentley is not good, Robert Morris is. That should sum up how this weekend will go in the Atlantic.
Also, Torey Krug led the Boston Bruins in time on ice last night in a 6-5 loss to a phenomenal Toronto team. That is a big accomplishment for a Spartan alum who many said was too small to play with the big kids in the NHL (especially when he sits on the same bench as Zdeno Chara, who is definitely a big kid). The guy is a helluva hockey player and has a great future ahead of him. I do not like the Bruins, but as long as Krug is in Boston, I will watch with great interest, as long as they aren’t playing the Wings.