Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coming Up....

Some great new posts coming at ya as we take a look at Big Ten players invited to camps/rostered for the 2012 World Junior Championships and while on the topic another post taking a look at Big Ten players in the NHL because--why not.

Also a schedule of games for these upcoming holiday season tournys. Until then enjoy your holidays, and this poem featured by USA Hockey Magazine. Cheers!

A Visit From The Great One- Feature Letter (Holiday Edition)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Frozen Yards: Our (and of course your's) Picks For The Next Outdoor Games

By Jessi Pierce

Ah what a beautiful sight. Nothing beats the sound of skates on fresh ice especially on a sunny--yet chilly--winter day. While Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State get to experience January hockey games in all its outdoor hockey glory we wanted to share our own early thoughts on potential Big Ten marquee match-ups. Let's play hockey!

Minnesota vs Wisconsin
  • Current Conference: Minnesota - WCHA, Wisconsin - WCHA
  • Number of Games Played Outside Before: Minnesota - 0, Wisconsin - 2 (W, W)
As Matt Brauson tweeted: "@B1gIceHockey Wisconsin and Minnesota obviously"
Can't argue with putting this at the top of the list and given the rivalry and tradition of both schools, it's almost surprising the two haven't met at center stage in an outdoor venue yet. There's no doubt that this game would draw the crowds. Typically two top-tier programs with a taste for bad blood between each other, the ingredients for an amazing hockey game are all there including some great stadiums to pick and choose from; The Gopher's new TCF Stadium located in the heart of the University of Minnesota campus--and across from their usual stomping grounds at Mariucci Arena-- or Wisconsin's Camp Randall where they sit 2-0 in outdoor competition against Ohio State in 2006 and over the Wolverines in 2010.

Matt Perros offered this solution to us via Twitter: probally tcf since its fairly new but they could switch off like msu and mich did"

Definitely a way to encourage and increase the amount of raucous college fans and their favorite chants on campus. Move off-campus and Minnesota offers another newly built crowd pleaser with the Minnesota Twins' Target Field in downtown Minneapolis and while it may require travel, Miller Park or Lambeau Field have proven to be fan favorites in Wisconsin.

An option that crossed my mind while skating up in the "Icebox of the Nation" (International Falls, Minn.) this past weekend would be to try something that has not yet been done with outdoor games; Bring it back to the ponds. I think this would especially work given the popularity of pond hockey in both states and with the already rich hockey background at both schools and a dedicated following, it'd work great. Even better, Adam Pietruszewski offers up this gem of an idea: Minnesota vs Wisconsin on Lake Minnetonka. One can dream, right?


Penn State vs Ohio State
  • Current Conferences: Penn State - ACHA, Ohio State - CCHA
  • Number of Games Played Outside Before: Penn State - 0 (soon to be 1 in 2012), Ohio State - 1 (L, soon to be 2 in 2012)

Got some great fan-feedback on this one and to be honest I hadn't really given it much thought until then but now see it as a positive for both schools trying to gain ground in a Michigan/Michigan State/Minnesota/Wisconsin dominated conference.

Ohio State has been building a rep for themselves as a school that can indeed compete with the big boys, making six NCAA appearances including four in the past nine years and putting up some big rankings in both major college polls this year. Now as Penn State looks to close out its ACHA run at the end of this season and featuring its outdoor game debut before making the jump to NCAA Div.I in 2012-13, why not pair up with a team that tends to get lost in the mix from time to time.

Here's what some of you guys had to say about why these two should face-off outdoors:

"I would love to see more than one game played outside, but also realize how tough it is to set it up, but it is fun to think about. As for the two teams I would like to see Penn State v Ohio State seems a natural. Could be played at the Jake or the Ketchup bottle."

Jon Bravard
Lock Haven, PA (about 35 miles from Penn State)

"I think Penn State-Ohio State at either school's football stadium (preferably Beaver Stadium, for homerish reasons) would be Big Chill huge, with a six-figure attendance!"

Kyle Rossi
Medina, OH

Similar to this year's Michigan-Ohio State match-up, these are two huge Big Ten programs. Throw them in at either college stadium and the tickets will sell with great fanfare at both. We'll be able to catch a glimpse of both team's in outdoor action this year but I can say I would not be surprised to see these two against eachother down the line.
Illinois vs Penn State
  • Current Conferences: Illinois - ACHA, Penn State - ACHA
  • Number of Games Played Outside Before: Illinois - 0, Penn State - 0 (soon to be 1 in 2012)
Ok I know, little talk has been discussed about the possibility of Illinois moving up to Div.I status and thus being eligible for Big Ten hockey, but this is coming from my partial American Collegiate Hockey Association biased (Cyclone Hockey original). In my four years working with Cyclone Hockey from 2006-10, few teams were better than Illinois and Penn State. The Icers have hoisted six ACHA National Titles (1990, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003) as the Fighting Illini have captured two in 2005 and 2008. Toss that in with the fact that--hypothetically speaking if Illinois gains NCAA Div.I sanction-- both were able to establish their programs as a Div.I team, why wouldn't you want to see them go back to their roots and compete?

Other teams/ideas garnering votes: Michigan-Michigan State: I have no fear that this game will remain an outdoor showcase--and legend for years to come.
An Outdoor Hockey Tournament For All as a Break in Schedule: An interesting concept brought up by Jordan Weiss. While I love the idea and I think given the right location it could be successful, I am sure college coaches--and teams--won't be up for it. The risk it puts players at for injury for the season isn't worthwhile to the teams. A possible adapted concept would be to opt for an outdoor tournament in place of one of the many holiday classics approaching us this weekend.

***Editor's Note: Big shoutout to all of you guys that participated, really appreciate the input and hope you had fun tossing your two cents in too (god knows that's essentially all I do).***

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Freeze Up: What Teams Do You Want To See?

Michigan is king of the outdoor show; or that's what it seems, playing in three outdoor games in the past 10 years--more than any other Big Ten Hockey team--and looking to make it four in January. With the hype of outdoor games, we want to know what teams YOU think should host an event. Should Minnesota and Wisconsin square off on one of the many ponds between the two states? Or maybe Penn State and Michigan State should up the anti? Whoever it is, whereever it is, we want you to tell us. Shoot us an email at b1gicehockey@gmail.com with your name, hometown and the two teams you'd like to see duke it out at an outdoor venue of your choice and we will include it in our next post! (Any ice setting as seen in the video above would be amazing)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Taking It Outside

By Jessi Pierce

OK, so the ponds may not be frozen over just yet and there is little snow on the ground to remind me that it is indeed December in Minnesnowta, but that doesn't stop my mind from wandering to the excitement of college hockey showcased at its purest form not once but twice this year, as Ohio State takes on Michigan at Progressive Field and Penn State faces NCAA DIII Neumann University as part of the Winter Classic action at Citizen's Bank Park in the latest announcement of outdoor hockey stages.

There's no doubt that these outdoor games are fan favorites--shown especially by the record-breaking  113,411 crowd at the Big House last year--and they continue to rise in popularity with more than 25 played stateside at varying levels since 2001. With the trend only going upward you can now find as many as four big-named games a year being played outside, including three Big Ten Teams faceing-off outdoors next month.

  • Current Conferences: Michigan - CCHA, Ohio State - CCHA
  • Number of Games Played Outside Before Jan.2012 Meeting : Michigan - 3 (T,L,W), Ohio State - 1 (L) 
This match-up withoutadoubt will generate plenty of buzz for the upcoming Big Ten conference. Two current members of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, this will mark the 125th meeting between the two teams, including the second series' between the two this year where Ohio State swept Big Blue in Ann Arbor back in November. Both teams will play in a weekend holiday tournament and open January with an easy home series against Lake Superior State for Michigan and on the road to Bowling Green for the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines have struggled this season, sitting at just 9-8-3 but mustered out a win and tie with Michigan State last weekend.

Ohio State has been hot, riding a nine-game win-streak in November and currently comes in with a 13-4-1 record along with a No.4 ranking in the USCHO Polls (even receiving a lone first-place vote) this past week. I won't go into much of preview for the match-up (save that for a post closer to the date) but it's going to be a good one.

While the Buckeyes took home the wins earlier this season and look to be the favorite, they only beat Michigan by one goal in both contests. Put that on a scale in a venue that holds 43,441 and its sure to be a sight to see. Michigan fans tend to travel well and with the animosity between Buckeye and Wolverine fans, I'm sure plenty Ohio State fans will be making the trip too.

USCHO.com's release

  • Current Conferences: Penn State - ACHA (last year) Neumann - NCAA DIII
  • Number of Games Played Outside Before Jan.2012 Meeting: Neumann University - 0, Penn State - 0
The Icers are playing their last year in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (non-scholarship/club programs) before moving up to NCAA Div.I next season. I have to say I love the moves this program is making and am very excited for them. Its clear that amidst the negative hype surrounding State College, Pa., right now, Penn State continues to focus on the excitement in their hockey program.

The Icers currently sit atop the ACHA standings at 13-1-0 and will face a tough prospect in Neumann, who are ranked No.15 in the USCHO Div.III pollings. In addition, Neumann is a previous 2010 Div.III title holder.

Why is this such a great move for Penn State? Heading to Citizen's Bank Park and playing just two days following the Winter Classic match-up between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will only continue to build the fanbase and further expose the Icers as a Div.I contender in the 2012-13 season. If that's not enough, Penn State announced that Pegula Arena will be opened in conjunction with the outdoor game. Boom. Prepare for the media spectacle.

Penn State's official release

Up next on B1GIH: A look at team's we think should host/play in an outdoor game

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The B1G Scoreboard (12/9/11-12/11/11 Weekend)

(Articles are linked once available)

Men's Scores from 12/9/11:
Women's Scores from 12/9/11:
  • Wisconsin 3, Bemidji State 1
Men's Scores from 12/10/11:
Women's Scores from 12/10/11:
  • Wisconsin 6, Bemidji State1
  • Ohio State 1, Minnesota 4
Women's Scores from 12/11/11:
  • Ohio State at Minnesota

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Michigan & Michigan State: Rivalry Weekend

The picture says it all. A bitter rivalry from the get-go where emotions run high and reputation in the state is on the line; It's Michigan-Michigan State weekend. A top-notch series, the in-state rivals go head-to-head this weekend opening up at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor 7:30 Friday night before heading to Munn Arena for a 6:30 faceoff Saturday.

The current Central Collegiate Hockey Association foes on ice (and Big Ten enemies in all other sports) will battle it out for state bragging rights where past competition doesn't matter and history of the series is erased. This weekend is all that matters.

"It doesn't matter how much they've won or lost lately. It's a series that it doesn't matter if we or they have lost every game,'' newly appointed MSU coach and former Spartan player Tom Anastos told msuspartans.com's Neil Koepke. "I've been on both sides of it. Having a game against your rival is exciting for everybody. We're fired up. It gives you an extra jump in practice.''

Coming off a split last weekend to Alaska and a tough start to the season overall, Michigan has gone just 1-6-1 in its last eight games while the No.14 Spartans continues to move up the national rankings with an 8-1-1 run as of late--including a sweep over Bowling Green last weekend-- and are 10-5-1 overall.

But as in any game--especially one that the fans crave--it's anyone's game.

Michigan players to watch: Shawn Hunwick- Hunwick once again has been stellar between the pipes. Recording his second shutout of the season in the Wolverines 1-0 win at Alaska last weekend (and bumping his career shutouts to seven, tied for fifth in Michigan program history) the redshirt senior has a .937 save percentage in the series against MSU.

Chris Brown- With Michigan's leading scorer freshman Phil DiGiuseppe out of action this weekend for the Canadian World Junior Camp, Brown is next in line to fill his shoes. The Junior forward has four goals on the season ranks second to DiGiuseppe.

David Wohlberg- Currently the Wolverines leading point-getter against the Spartans (with 14 in 15 contests played) you're sure to see Wohlberg making moves on the ice this weekend.

MSU players to watch: Torey Krug- The junior captain along with linemate Brett Shelgren are a defensive dynamic duo, making it hard for any shots to get through. The pair combine for 75 blocked shots on the season and Krug's 4-7-11 line ranks fourth in the CCHA among defenseman in scoring.

Lee Reimer- Reimer currently sits second in the CCHA in both points (20) and assists (13) and is able to make moves and not only set-up plays but score too.

Brett Darnell- Darnell netted his first collegiate goal against Bowling Green last weekend and looked awesome out there. A four-point weekend last weekend earned the freshman CCHA Rookie of the Week honors and I wouldn't be surprised to see him tally a few more points again this weekend.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Realignment Not Just For College Hockey


From the get-go, our intent here at B1G Ice Hockey was to discuss the teams and the effect of a Big Ten Hockey Conference realignment. We have discussed the pros and cons and broken down what the change all really meant for NCAA hockey -- and the sport as a whole. It's been proven through time that change is never easy. Adjustment takes time and will be met with plenty of opposition along the way.

That's just the way it is. But it happens and eventually it becomes the norm.

I want to shift gears a bit from college hockey to the NHL after Monday evening's announcement on the new Conference alignment. See, it's everywhere folks--and hey since there are 42 current Big Ten Hockey players that have been drafted into the big leagues since 2008, we can tie that in too.

In case you haven't heard or have been too busy harping on yet another failed BCS championship games (oh SEC I loathe you), the League's Board of Governors approved and announced this past Monday that rather than the current two Conference format, teams would be slotted in to four Conference's to begin as early as next year. A peek at how the Conference's will sit, which have yet to be named:

Conference A: Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado
Conference B: Detriot, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Winnipeg, Dallas, Columbus
Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Conference D: Carolina, New Jersey, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

The change will pit former foes against eachother, reigniting former rivalries, and will make travel and game times a lot easier on players (and fans) whose time-zone changes have been brought up numerous times throughout the past few seasons.

The same questions were raised as was during the Big Ten's announcement; "What about former rivalries?" "How will this change playoffs?" "I want things to just stay the same!".

But if it's good enough for the NHL--the goal that nearly every one of our favorite college hockey players hold-- why wouldn't it be good enough for NCAA hockey? As always, we will see how things play out when its put in to place, but just like I've said before (and in the words of Sheryl Crow) sometimes "A Change Will Do You Good."

For more on the NHL realignment visit www.NHL.com