While the first season of Big Ten hockey continues to unleash firsts every weekend, a couple names are making regular appearances in the honors department.
Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand and Minnesota forward Sam Warning have been named Big Ten three stars for the third and fourth time, respectively. 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.
The pair are joined by Spartans forward Lee Reimer.
Hildebrand, the first star for the week ending January 20, made 48 saves Friday night against Penn State in a 3-0 win and 77 of 79 total in the two-game sweep. Friday's shutout was the sophomore goalie's second of the season. The Butler, PA native is second in the conference in save percentage with .929% in 18 appearances.
It's the second time in a three week span that Hildebrand has been named the Big Ten first star. He was also honored December 31, 2013.
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Warning, meanwhile, earned the second star after the junior forward, who leads the Gophers with 26 points and tied for first with 10 goals, compiled Minnesota's first natural hat trick since 2010 on Saturday. Trailing 2-0 to Ohio State, the Chesterfield, MO native scored three goals in a 13:02 span of gametime to put the Gophers ahead 3-2 at Mariucci Arena (the top-ranked Gophers went on to win 4-2 to complete a series sweep of the Buckeyes).
"It was a pretty special moment. I think at the time it was a 3-2 game, so we couldn't get too excited," Warning said about his hat trick.
Including a pair of goals against Penn State, his first since October 19, Warning had five goals in a five day span.
The third star this week is Reimer, whose go-ahead goal 3:41 into the third period Saturday gave the Spartans a 3-2 win; its first regulation win in Big Ten history. (MSU previously won two shootouts.) The senior forward also had three points (1G-2A) in Friday's game and now sits in third place for Michigan State scoring with 14 points (4G-10A).
Michigan State faces Michigan for a pair of conference games Thursday in Detroit and Friday in East Lansing.
Minnesota faces St. Cloud State in the inaugural North Star College Cup on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers play either Minnesota State or Minnesota-Duluth the next night depending on the result against the Huskies.
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate