Big Ten 3 Stars: Minnesota's Boyd & Rau, Wisconsin's McCabe honored

Matt Christians - SB Nation

A trio of juniors earn the first Big Ten awards of 2014.

With only two Big Ten teams in action this past weekend, the competition for the Three Stars was slim. That didn't stop Minnesota junior forwards Travis Boyd (Washington Capitals draft pick) and Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers), along with Wisconsin junior defenseman Jake McCabe (Buffalo Sabres), from having weekends worthy of being honored.

Boyd was named the first star after a three-point performance (1G-2A) Saturday in the Gophers' 6-2 win over RPI. The junior forward, playing on Minnesota's third line, did so while matched up against the Engineers top line of Matt Neal, Brock Higgs and Ryan Haggerty (the nation's leading goal scorer).

"We knew were going to be matched up against them, so we knew we had to do a good job on D," Boyd said Saturday. "I think we picked our spots to create offense and I thought my line tonight played absolutely phenomenal.

Boyd also scored the tying goal in Friday night's 2-2 tie with Colgate. (The Raiders won a shootout 2-1 to advance to the Mariucci Classic championship against Ferris State.) It's the first time in his career the Hopkins, MN native recorded goals in both series games.

Rau, this week's second star, assisted on Boyd's goal Fridau for his 100th career point. The Eden Prairie, MN native scored twice Saturday in addition to being the only Gopher to beat Raiders goalie Charlie Finn in the shootout.

This is the second time Rau has been named one of the Big Ten Three Stars, having earned the third star October 15th, and (along with Boyd) continues a streak where at least one Minnesota player has been honored every week the 12-2-3 team has played this season.

McCabe, meanwhile, earned the third star for his performance in Wisconsin's split at home against Alaska-Anchorage. The Eau Claire, WI native scored twice Saturday in a 4-3 win, including the game-winning goal, and continues to be one of the top defensemen in the conference.

"I'll take that second goal any night of the week," McCabe said about his second goal, which went off a Seawolf defender. "To get puck luck like that, it hasn't really been in our favor. So I guess the hockey gods were on our side tonight and we'll take that any day of the week."

The Big Ten began sponsoring men's hockey in 2013-14. In lieu of naming a player of the week, the conference is instead naming three stars.

Next weekend, Minnesota becomes the first Big Ten to play at Pegula Arena against Penn State in a two game series Sunday and Monday. Wisconsin hosts Michigan at Kohl Center Friday-Saturday in Big Ten conference play.

--

Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter --

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