|Minnesota stick saluting the crowd after Saturday's 5-2 win and series sweep of Penn State (Nathan Wells)|
It was a good weekend for Minnesota and Wisconsin with both teams separating themselves among the rest, creating a two-team conference race over the final ten games. Ohio State essentially ended up treading water on the road against Michigan, but the Buckeyes were able to come back Saturday and salvage a split with a last-minute Nick Schilkey goal.
USCHO's Drew Claussen, who was at Mariucci on Saturday, wrote as much in his weekly Big Ten column, also teasing round 2 with deputy commissioner Brad Traviola.
Sadly the result left for Red Berenson to leave his own press conference without taking any questions, the latest in a season gone awry for the Wolverines. The Michigan Daily's front page says it all.
Make sure to pick up a copy of the @michigandaily tomorrow. Here's a preview of our SportsMonday cover. pic.twitter.com/CUoUfFONSB— Kevin Santo (@Kevin_M_Santo) February 6, 2017
Penn State, meanwhile, faces true adversity for the first time this season in the midst of a four game losing streak. The road doesn't get any easier. The Nittany Lions travel to Wisconsin this weekend and its only home series are against the Gophers and Badgers. Still, the Nittany Lions do control its destiny while sitting 8 points back.
While I don't think Penn State are as bad as people cheering its downfall believe (I also don't think PSU was the best team in the country when it was ranked #1 in the polls and Pairwise a few weeks back - the answer is likely somewhere in the middle), I'm curious to see how Guy Gadowsky gets his team to respond. The Nittany Lions tried a few new wrinkles in Saturday's game. Some worked. Some didn't.
At the end of the day, defense needs to improve when facing teams that can control the puck. It's been a struggle of late for PSU after the team has given up 5+ goals in each of its last four losses.
Minnesota's sweep led to dueling columns in Penn State's Daily Collegian. Should Penn State men's hockey fans begin to panic?
Here's Black Shoe Diaries' Chris Taylor on Saturday's loss.
Avi Sholkoff wrote a fun feature on the Children of Yost student section for the Michigan Daily.
Eleven Warriors and Land Grant Holy Land on Ohio State's comeback Saturday.
Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal wrote earlier about Wisconsin's confidence growing under head coach Tony Granato and the "chicken or the egg" question about whether that has to do with more skill. Either way it paid off with the Badgers winning in overtime for the second consecutive Saturday.
Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal wrote prior to the five-win Spartans getting swept about how Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos sees similarities between his Spartans and Wisconsin in their rebuilding projects. It doesn't speak well to MSU that Wisconsin was able to hit rock bottom and pass the Spartans in the amount of time Anastos has been rebuilding. To that end I can think of one way it would be similar to Wisconsin.
Last, but not least, former Wisconsin head coach Jeff Sauer passed away on Thursday. If you haven't read Jess Myers' excellent piece remembering the St. Paul native and USA Hockey Hall of Famer, I urge you to take the five minutes.