Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Wisconsin was the prediction at the beginning of the year to win the Big Ten Championship Tournament.
Though they wavered at the beginning of the season, for the second straight year the Badgers hoisted a conference tournament championship trophy around the Xcel Energy Arena.
Ohio State didn't make it easy for them. The Buckeyes had pushed past Michigan State in a 2-1 overtime victory and out-muscled top-seed Minnesota to earn their spot in Saturday's championship bout. Wisconsin earned a bye from the first round and topped Penn State for a shot at the title.
It was anyone's game.
Friday, March 21, 2014
It came, it went, and few people noticed. More than likely because the attendance at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday barely tipped 4,000 (despite the announced attendance). Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State took to the ice at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively. It was a rough draw.
Those watching it on TV noticed the empty seats -- something that is rarely seen in that building, home to the state high school tournament that draws 19,000+ and the NHL's Minnesota Wild. Hockey fans that snuck out of work to catch a glimpse of Big Ten hockey found themselves able to purchase tickets at an extraordinarily low price and move down to the lower bowl freely. Most of them didn't stay to the end, even in a double OT upset win for Penn State over Michigan.
Yes, all in all, the first day of the Big Ten Championship tournament was a B1G disappointment.
As my boss told me all season -- mind you I work in a hockey office -- "I just have no feeling or excitement for this." He won't be going back to the X for the weekend. And like him, many won't be.
Our blog pushes and strives to promote Big Ten hockey. It has for the past two years, seeing the growing potential it has for the sport that we all love. It's a good thing in the grand scheme of college hockey and will take time to adjust. But even we must admit, the same intense passion that has been felt for years in the WCHA and CCHA is now gone. It's a tough pill to swallow for fans who were so loyal to those conferences.
Fans don't flock to the X like they used to on tournament weekend and the local bars are noticeably missing jerseys in the seats.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
I have to admit, the word 'inaugural' has found itself blacklisted from my vocabulary. The redundancy and overuse of 'the-word-that-shall-not-be-said' this season has taken its toll.
So hang it from the rafters, applaud its retirement, starting next year there will be no more firsts in the Big Ten hockey conference.
That being said, we can now look back on what was accomplished in 'Year One' of Big Ten hockey.
More opinions will of course be decided this weekend. The Big Ten Conference Championship Tournament invades the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., providing one final measuring stick before we find out where our Big Ten teams land on the national stage.