|Photo courtesy of Big Ten Hockey|
By Jessi Pierce
Lots of action starting early this morning at the Xcel Energy Center as the St. Paul building hosted the inaugural Big Ten Media Day Thursday. And what a day of events it is as we get a peek at preseason favorites, hear from our favorite coaches and players and see what the B1G revealed as the playoff trophy.
Things jumped off with the Big Ten coaches listing their preseason favorites. The line up replicated what we thought, too:
4 (tie). Michigan
4 (tie). Michigan State
4 (tie). Ohio State
6. Penn State
I think lumping Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State together actually makes sense (wish I would have done the same as I had a tough time picking one over the other in our preseason rankings).
As every fan knows, preseason rankings mean very little in the grand scheme of things -- heck ask Wisconsin last year who was dead last before re-surging to life halfway through the season when it really mattered.
Mike Eaves, leading the helm for the Badgers, was asked what additional pressure that preseason ranking placed on his team heading into the season, if any:
"I think the reason we were picked in that position is because you take a look at our lineup and we're an upperclassmen team. IfI look at teams, that's the first thing I look for are returners and such. It's almost a natural thing to happen because of the fact that we are an upperclassmen team. So no surprises there. I don't think it changes anything we do in terms of our expectations and the way we want to conduct our business. It's just a pretty natural position to be in because of the upperclassmen we have on the team."
Nonetheless we're excited to see who proves us right, and wrong.
Those upperclassman led the way for the Big Ten's 13 Player's to Watch, though Golden Gopher Kyle Rau was the only unanimous vote in.
Michigan: Mac Bennett (D) and Alex Gupitll (F)
Michigan State: Matt Berry (F) and Jake Hildebrand (G)
Minnesota: Kyle Rau (F) (unanimous), Mike Reilly (D) and Adam Wilcox (G)
Ohio State: Ryan Dzingel (F) and Max McCormick (F)
Wisconsin: Nic Kerdiles (F), Jake McCabe (D), MIchael Mersch (F) and Mark Zengerle (F)
A couple things to note here. First, just look at those Badgers listed. It's no surprise people, including the coaches, are looking to them to lead the conference. An unbelievable list of returners and a scoring presence that should worry all opponents -- Big Ten or not.
Second of all, no Penn State players were selected to the group. Pretty harsh. Thank You Terry's Kyle Rossi breaks down the disappointment best in his blog post today and I can't say I disagree with him. It's a snub for sure, not only listing the Nittany Lions last in the preseason rankings, but not even giving them a look.
PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky didn't directly address the fact none of his team was selected in today's presser but did acknowledge that it's part of being the new guy:
"I mean, we're new. It's a new conference. We're new. We've never been in a conference. So very
difficult for me to say this is what you're going to get. We don't know. That is part of the excitement
"The players are all here. These are the guys. If we recruited you to come to Penn State, we believe you're someone hungry to accept that challenge. We don't know. Trust me, we're not naive. We understand very well how great the programs are in the Big Ten Conference. We were very, very understanding of that and very respectful of that."
And Gadowsky definitely is a coach to respect, proving more so today.
Playoff Trophy Revealed
The Big Ten also released the playoff trophy early this morning, placed on the presser table alongside the regular season trophy that was released earlier this year.
It has a much more traditional look which I am a big fan of. What do you guys think?