Hello hockey friends,
Welcome back to another year of Big Ten hockey. Each week, I will strive to put together a entertaining look at the conference. Will it be the Gnomes? Well, I'm probably not as funny as they are. On the other hand, I have a lovely singing voice. See?
Four of the six Big Ten teams were in action this week, as the Michigan teams decided to stay home and look at each other instead of playing. It was probably very boring. Since they didn't play, they're automatically at the bottom of my power rankings.
*remembers Wisconsin's performance on the weekend*
I have an important announcement: the Michigan teams will not occupy the bottom rung on the conference ladder. That distinction belongs to the
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers
Oh boy, Wisconsin, I know you graduated or lost your entire roster from last year (with the exception of Joel Rumpel), but wha' happened in Alaska? You managed to lose to two different teams from Alaska in one weekend. You were out-shot by a 56-43. Rumpel, arguably your best player, allowed four goals on 25 shots from an
uber-talented Alaska-Anchorage. This is an embarrassment. And to think I picked you to finish third in the conference this year.
The fact that you're still ranked in the top 20 in the USCHO.com poll proves how worthless all polls are, and you've made me say that when the Gophers are damn near a unanimous #1 pick by the voters. Shame on you.
You win this week's Making Purdue Football Look Like Less of a Trainwreck award.
You did not play and I have very low expectations for you, so to bottom of the conference you go. You would have been #6 it wasn't for #LooooooooooooolWisconsin. I picked you to be at the bottom of the conference beneath Penn State, FYI. This week, however, you're better than Wisconsin.
#4 - Michigan Wolverines
You did not play and I expect you to finish second in the Big Ten this year. You might have been lower because of not playing, but you were saved by Wisconsin's ineptitude and your neighbor's expected, but as of yet unseen, ineptitude. This week, you're better than Wisconsin.
Well Penn State, you scheduled the rough equivalent of an FCS football team and came out FLAT on Friday. You squeaked out a 2-2 sister kiss against UConn. You looked like just another Penn State team in that tie; throwing lots of shots on net, but not having the ability to finish the shots in the goal column. Well, you were able to turn that around on Saturday and put seven on the board. Good on you for recovering. You're better than Wisconsin.
#2 - Ohio State Buckeyes
When was the last time you saw a power poll with the Ohio State Buckeyes at #2 in the Big Ten? I've certainly never written one, but this is where we find ourselves. By default. The only team to play a respectable opponent and win a game. Look, I just ripped on the USCHO.com poll, but Providence checks in at number 5, even after splitting with the Buckeyes. Clearly the brain trust thinks Providence is legit, so the Buckeyes might also be legit after taking the Friars to OT twice and winning once. Congratulations, Buckeyes, you're better than Wisconsin.
Well, the Duluth game ended up close, but RPI never really threatened the Gophers return to the IceBreaker throne. In fact, they changed the rules so that the Gophers wouldn't be invited next year to prevent a three-peat. *Gophers brush off shoulders*. On to Bemidji State after an off weekend. The Gophers are DEFINITELY better than Wisconsin.
Dishonorable Mention: College Hockey, Inc.
I've gone back and forth over whether or not I should really go after College Hockey, Inc. for the disaster that was the IceBreaker tournament. I've now decided that I should.
The purpose of your organization is to promote college hockey to attract young players to the college game and away from the Canadian Junior leagues. Well, how well does putting forty butts in the seats for two games played by the best team in the country accomplish that? It doesn't. The Gophers could have played two games on the moon and had the same number of fans show up. Take a look at the Gopher hockey Facebook page and see the shot of the team with the Trophy. There isn't a single fan visible in the shot. Note: I would post it here, but I don't want to set the University against CHI or make it seem like I'm speaking for the University; I'm not.
So what happened? Well, when they scheduled this tournament to be at Notre Dame, they didn't realize that the Irish would blow up the tournament schedule by shifting a home football game to this weekend. Still, a 1 PM Start time Friday? What did you think would happen? Even worse is the 11 AM start on Sunday for the championship game. Yeah, let's try to grow the sport and attract young players by taking on the NFL head to head. Again, I understand Notre Dame did this to you, but they're Notre Dame. If you didn't expect to be second fiddle to the football team, you clearly didn't know what you were getting into.
So, Notre Dame screwed you, and they clearly didn't advertise this tournament to their students as an event, which didn't do you any favors. Well, let's talk about television coverage. Sports that aren't televised practically don't exist in our culture, at least when it comes to major Division 1 programs. If you're trying to attract young talent, get the games on TV. The fact that you couldn't get Fox Sports North to cover the Friday game rather than running some re-run shows just how little clout your organization has with the media.
I know college hockey is regional. I know you do a lot of work with young kids before the college coaches are allowed to get to them. But if you're going to put on a tournament like this, how does it end as such an abysmal failure? Well, you didn't work; you didn't grind to make this a success. You should be embarrassed.