Tuesday, November 19, 2013

1° Below Freezing: Quick Hits In B1G Hockey

Streak Stops: It was an impressive run but it was bound to end sometime. The University of Minnesota women's hockey team was handed its first loss since 2012 on Sunday. After a 6-1 route of North Dakota on Saturday, the Gophers fell 3-2 at home thanks to three first-period goals from North Dakota. The loss ended an NCAA-record win streak of 62 consecutive games. Minnesota's last loss was also to North Dakota on Feb. 17, 2012. Gopher head coach Brad Frost tweeted the following the game Sunday:

"Thank you to all of the coaches, media, fans, alums and supporters of women's hockey for the humbling congrats on the streak. It was an incredible run. To go 639 days without a loss and 62 games was truly remarkable and special. I am so proud of our current players, staff and the three teams of former players who were all part of this streak. We will never forget being involved with it. 
"The game has grown and we are very proud of that. We will learn from tonight and continue with out ultimate goals for the season. Thanks again everyone -- Brad."

During the streak, the Gophers out-scored their opponents 311-60 and out-shot them 2,343-1,421.

Still On Top: One loss didn't hinder the Gopher women's team in the slightest, maintaining the No. 1 spot in the USCHO women's and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine women's college polls. The ladies' counterpart, the Minnesota men's team, is also still holding the No. 1 ranking in both polls for the fifth straight week. Also holding their own in the rankings was Michigan in at No. 5 in both polls and Wisconsin at No. 12 in both, too. Ohio State earned 63 votes in USCHO.com's polls and 3 votes with USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine but didn't break into either.

Ohio State Solid: I came across more than a few people, blogs and articles touting the Buckeyes to be stellar this year, some even predicting them to win the Big Ten. Like I'm sure plenty of you (outside of OSU fans) are doing right now, I shook my head and laughed -- thinking it couldn't be true. Well, I have to admit Ohio State has impressed me so far in this early season and the emergence of some dominate forwards has me now slightly seeing the possibility -- though not 100% clearly. Tanner Fritz and Ryan Dzingel are proving to be the real deal and have helped the Buckeyes to five-straight wins and a 6-1 homestand. They get a real test Nov. 29 with their first peek at Big Ten competition though against a familiar foe in Michigan. Looking forward to that B1G spotlight of the week.

Penn State: PSU made an effort in the weekend's second game against UMass- Lowell, bringing the game within 1 of the ranked River Hawks after a 4-0 rousing the night before. I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Nittany Lion loyals but the schedule is only going to get tougher. Penn State faces Boston College, Wisconsin and Minnesota in coming weeks, will be interesting to see how they fare then with some steady competition.

Where We're Ranking Up: Probably not surprising, the Big Ten isn't overwhelmingly dominating across teh nation. Still Big Ten teams are making a presence known on plenty of fronts.

  • Minnesota's Sam Warning in No. 5 in the nation in scoring with 17 points (5 G, 12 A) in 10 games played. Warning is also 4th in the country for assists.
  • Ohio State's Ryan Dzingel's 14 points in 12 games put him at No. 19 in the nation for scoring. The Buckeyes' Tanner Fritz is No. 16 in assists with 9.
  • Michigan's Zach Nagelvort is the Big Ten's best statistical goalie, coming in at No. 6. The freshman has a .94 save percentage and a 1.7089 goals against average through 7 games played.
  • The Gopher offense ranks second in the nation behind Hockey East foe Boston College. Minnesota is averaging 4.20 goals per game. Their defense is fourth with 1.9 goals against average so far this season. Ohio State's offense is ranked 10th (3.58 g/gp) and Michigan's defense is tied for seventh ( 2.00 ga/gp).
  • The Wolverines have the nation's fourth best powerplay so far this season going 11-for-40 and converting on 27.5%..
  • Penn State's penalty kill unit is the best from the Big Ten coming in at No. 18. They are 45-for-53 (84.9%) on the man down so far this season. But the Nittany Lions also rank third across Division I teams for penalty minutes, averaging 19.33 minutes per game in the sin bin.