Week 3 of Big Ten hockey (non-con) is in the books, and we've seen some improvement, I guess. I was hoping for better results out of this conference in the non-con, and I've been pretty disappointed so far. I can't sugar coat it right now; I think that this conference is probably third in terms of power, maybe fourth. If you're wondering about my the conferences ahead of the Big Ten (in no particular order)- ECAC, Hockey East, NCHC.
Those of you familiar with me and my opinions know how much it kills me to put the ECAC on this list. But who can argue that a league that contains defending national champion Union, Colgate, Clarkson, and Quinnipiac, isn't better today than a league that contains the following?
Mercifully, the woeful Badgers had a bye-week to either wallow in their self-made hell or figure out how to pull themselves out of it. They'll find out if they've figured-out this whole slidey-puck thing this weekend when they welcome #3 North Dakota, so I'm not hopeful. Congratulations Wisconsin. You are awful.
Remember last week when I had the Spartans at #2 on the list? Didn't last long, did it? So Michigan State went out to Massachusetts to defend the Big Ten's honor with twin brother Michigan for a pair of games against UMass-Lowell and Boston University. Apparently nobody told the Michigan State forwards what time the games started because they only scored one goal in two games.
The Spartans can play some defense (or just lay down in the opponents shooting lanes, I haven't watched one of their games this year but it wouldn't surprise me), because they lost each game by one goal. That's right; 1-0 and 2-1. That's Wisconsin-like futility on offense with a better defense. You're better than Wisconsin, but not much. Yikes. The Spartans will make an appearance in the dishonorable mention. Hooray!
#4 - Ohio State Buckeyes
Did not play. The Buckeyes drop a spot in the poll because Michigan has more wins. Look for more in the dishonorable mention. I guess you're better than Wisconsin, but I'm really not happy about it this week.
Michigan managed to split their east coast trip, smashing UMass-Lowell 8-4 before pooping their pants against BU. If you want to know how the Wolverines will do on a given weekend, just pick them to split. They'll look awesome one night and like crap the next, just like last year! You're better than Wisconsin, and you have a classy and respectable coach who's smart enough not to willingly turn himself into a pawn in someone's article. You're comfortably better than Wisconsin.
#2 - Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1-2)
Penn State swept a horrible Holy Cross team, which I appreciate. They found some offense on Saturday and put seven goals on the board. Not a bad effort. Pay no attention to the fact they haven't played any team of note. Three wins puts you at #2 in the Big Ten. See what I mean about the state of the conference? You're better than Wisconsin and almost everyone else.
The Gophers took care of business in a two game sweep of Bemidji State and looked pretty convincing doing it. Sure the Saturday game was tied going into the third period, but did you ever feel like the Gophers wouldn't win? I didn't. Can't win every game by so many goals that the other team doesn't even bother pulling the goalie. Good effort. You're better than everyone (especially Wisconsin).
Dishonorable Mention: Steve Rohlik and Tom Anastos
So, Ohio State coach, Steve Rohlik and Michigan State coach (and former CCHA commissioner) Tom Anastos were quoted in a USCHO.com piece full of backhanded swipes a fellow conference members (and three schools with lots of college hockey history): Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. You can tell that these are the schools the writer is targeting because he has nice things to say about Rohlik and Anastos and nothing but vague sort-of-accusations of [not really] impropriety about "big schools" with "big arenas."
So what's the big impropriety of which
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan those "big schools" guilty of that Anastos and Rohlik were willing to pile on? Well, big schools prefer to play as many home games as possible to maximize revenues, and are willing to pay smaller programs a share of that revenue to compensate their travel costs. STOP THE PRESSES.
The author, Alex Faust, works for Northeastern University. Apparently, he's upset that teams like Minnesota are unwilling to travel to play in Northeastern's arena. He doesn't seem to realize that this is a money-losing proposition for Minnesota because Northeastern likely can't pay enough for the Gophers to break-even on travel expenses. His complete unwillingness to actually point a finger at any program or cite a specific instance of when this has happened makes his piece a huge steaming pile of nothingburger, but that didn't stop USCHO from stretching it into three pieces to make it feel like some sort of journalistic achievement.
Frankly, I don't care what Faust thinks. He's clearly made his bargain for internet ink with USCHO while still pushing the small school hockey agenda about how the big bad programs won't come play us at home. I can ignore him.
What I can't ignore is two coaches in the conference being short-sighted enough to comment in this lame article. How do they think that makes the rest of the conference look? I can't stand that they are willing to act like they're able to take the high road despite coaching such lofty college hockey programs as Ohio State and Michigan State. You know why these two coaches don't offer guaranteed money to bring in opponents and rely on reciprocity instead? Their programs aren't big enough or respected enough to pull it off. I bet three quarters of OSU students even know they have a hockey team. I'm exaggerating, but not much.
The most mind-boggling part of their participation in this farce? They work for Ohio State and Michigan State, who do this type of thing all the time for football and basketball. So they're not just spitting the faces of the other coaches in the conference, they're also spitting in the faces of their own athletic departments. Can you believe Anastos once presided over an entire college hockey conference?