#6 Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State followed up their 4-0 victory over Michigan by tying the lesser Michigan team (and losing in the shootout) and then losing to the lesser Michigan team. It's not surprise that there wasn't much scoring against the Spartans, but I was hoping they could pick up another win for the sake of chaos. I intentionally avoided watching this series because I suspected that it would be slow and boring. By all accounts, I was right, and it looked like both teams were skating on a sand box rather than on ice. Plus, did you see that shootout? It looks like Penn State only has one or two guys that can skate. The rest of them look like the Thing from the Fantastic Four strapped on some skates and decided to give hockey a shot. Also, it's getting difficult to find gifs to punish the Nittany Lions for their persistent basement dwelling. This week, they win the Tommy Callahan Self-Actualization Award.
#5 Michigan State Spartans
As you can tell from above, the Spartans took five of six points from Penn State, but scored only four goals on the weekend. Someone send Tom Anastos an email and tell him that his team is allowed to score more than four goals in a weekend. Occasionally, I'd be very happy if they did. If they could have knocked off Penn State in regulation, or even in OT for that matter, I could have seen the first five minutes of the Gophers game on my TV rather than my iPhone. I was forced to watch the most horrible shootout I've ever seen. I've made it clear that don't approve of shootouts on principle, but I don't think anyone enjoyed this one. I would have rather seen these two teams shoot layups to decide the game rather than shoot hockey pucks. At least they gave me more evidence to prove shootouts suck. Michigan State wins this week's Excellence in Viewing Brutality Award.
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes did the Gophers a huge solid and took three points from the Badgers. The only way this weekend could have gone better for the Gophers would be if they had somehow managed to win on Saturday as well. I didn't really expect that to happen, but it would have been great. Around the internet lately, this "Ding, Ding, Dzingel" thing has been gaining traction. I don't understand it. It reminds me of "Woo, Woo, Kenny Wu!" from D2, but twice as forced, which is impressive. How can you be less cool than figure skating nonsensically inserted into a hockey movie? Well done, Ohio State fans. Well done.
#3 Michigan Wolverines
Michigan came into Mariucci after handing Penn State their first victory in the conference. How did the Wolverines respond to that loss? By ending up in the the Gophers' dust pan. Red Berenson decided to start Steve Racine over Zach Nagelvoort after Nagelvoort dropped the game to Penn State. Unfortunately for Racine, he ran into a Gophers offense that got out of a scoring slump in style. The weekend also exposed a serious discipline problem for the team that cost them this weekend, and if it continues, will definitely cost them come tournament time. For putting their fans through three games of misery, the Wolverines win the (normally reserved for Purdue) Train Wreck Award.
#2 Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin took their show on the road to Ohio State. In case you hadn't heard, the Badgers are BRUTAL on the road (2-7-1 in road games this year). They earned a split against the Buckeyes, but still lost ground to the Gophers in the conference race. Had the Badgers swept last weekend, Michigan's six points in hand would not have been enough to close the gap between the two teams. As it is now, the Badgers' hold on second place is in jeopardy when Michigan gets a shot at those points in two weeks. I was looking for a gif that expressed "not quite good enough" for the Badgers, but came up empty handed. Instead, they get the gif that made me laugh the hardest while I searched:
#1 Pride on Ice- Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Gophers had a few questions to answer after being swept in Madison and scoring only five goals in a four game stretch. To answer, they put up nine goals in two games, and they repeatedly scored timely goals, striking quickly after Michigan goals and scoring separation goals. For the first time in a few weeks, the Gophers looked like a team that was ranked #1 in the polls for the majority of the year. The weekend accomplished everything we could have hoped for: the offense is back, Wilcox is still a stud, and the Gophers created separation on the conference table from every other team. They also left the Wolverines searching for answers and in the middle of a three game skid. Nice weekend. I love winning. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
Dishonorable Mention- Michael Downing, Michigan
There's a word for a player in hockey with this stat line in a two game series: 1 shot on net, plus/minus of -4,and 30 penalty minutes including two game misconducts. That word is "goon." The problem with goons in college is that you're not allowed to fight, so all you can do is damage to your own team. I know the two ten-minute penalties are basically pointless once the player is forced to leave the ice, but two five-minute majors in two games does serious harm to the team's odds of winning the game. The whole Michigan roster showed some immaturity last weekend, but Downing is the shining example of how not to react to adversity.
The B1G Hockey Conference doesn't seem to suspend players with the same frequency as its eastern counterparts, but they took appropriate action and suspended Downing for one game. They also banned Michigan forward Andrew Sinelli for the cross check to Justin Kloos's throat area after the whistle. For his efforts, Downing wins the first ever "You're A Goon" award!