The biggest game on the college hockey TV schedule this weekend.....already happened? Wisconsin knocked off Minnesota 2-1 on Thursday night, which, Big Ten hockey turned into Sun Belt Conference football so gradually that I barely even noticed.
But there's still nine nationally televised games on the docket this weekend. Here's a look at where to find them:
Big Ten Double-Header: Ohio State at Michigan State 6:30pm/Minnesota at Wisconsin 9pm--Big Ten Network
After last weekend, where Michigan State played pretty close at Minnesota, and Ohio State obliterated Penn State, I think people are starting to realize that while both MSU and OSU aren't great, they're actually not that bad either. Add in the high variance of the Big Ten tournament, and either of these teams could play spoiler for somebody late in the season.
Minnesota had managed good results in close games for a few weeks to stave off the inevitable, but finally lost for the time since the week before Thanksgiving when Wisconsin beat them last night. Three points by the Badgers tonight puts them only four back of the Gophers with eight games to play, and Minnesota arguably has the tougher schedule with Michigan on the schedule four times, while Wisconsin is done with the Wolverines. A Minnesota win and the Big Ten race is all but in the books.
Western Michigan at Miami, 7:30 CBS Sports Network
CBS Sport Net returns to broadcasting the NCHC after taking the weekend off last week. There's not as much allure to this series after Western Michigan got swept by Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, likely ending any talks of the Broncos making a second half push at an at-large tourney bid, and Miami has pretty much been a train wreck all year. But these two teams combined for an enormously entertaining series a few weeks back in Kalamazoo, and hopefully game can match that.
Vermont at New Hampshire 7:30 Fox College Sports
I'll be honest: give me a blank map of the United States and there's a 50/50 chance I don't mix up which state is Vermont and which one is New Hampshire. Does that sort of thing create a rivalry? Tune in to fine out. Or tune in to watch New Hampshire senior duo Kevin Goumas and Nick Sorkin, who are pretty good.
Maine at Notre Dame 8pm NBC Sports Net
If you haven't seen Maine play, they've got one of the best sophomore defenseman in the country, and even crazier, he'll be a freshman next year. It's the mysterious case of Benjamin Hutton.(I'm sorry). It's no mystery why Maine has been so good this year. The trifecta of Hutton, goalie Martin Ouellette, and forward Devin Shore might be as good a trio as anywhere in college hockey outside of Boston College.
Notre Dame is still in eighth place, and still somehow in contention for an NCAA tournament bid.
Ohio State at Michigan State 4pm Fox Sports Detroit+
Last weekend on the ESPN News broadcast--which for the record, I thought was pretty solid--they were giving a lot of hype to Ohio State's Ryan Dzingel as a Hobey candidate. Before you shrug that off as the typical hype to try and make a Penn State/Ohio State more interesting, take a moment to consider Dzingel is 7th in the country in scoring, including top scorer in the west, and is also an incredible two-way player. I think everyone has come to grips with Johnny Gaudreau winning the award, but Dzingel is the top candidate in the west for me, and possibly deserves consideration in the Hobey Hat Trick.
Michigan at Penn State 5pm ESPNU
This weekend will be the first ever meeting between Michigan and Penn State. I know the Nittany Lions are still building and they're not great this year, but it's still a little surprising to see them at 0-8-0 in the league thus far. They're going to knock off somebody along the way, and this might be the weekend that it happens.
UMass-Lowell at Massachusetts 6pm NESN
Coming off a big sweep over Merrimack, UMass-Lowell has three winnable games, including this one, before a big home-and-home showdown against Boston College on Februrary 21/22.
Massachusetts has the second worst offense in Hockey East, while UMass-Lowell has the third-best defense, so if you don't like goals, this will be the game for you.
Maine at Notre Dame 8pm NBC Sports Net
Again? I'm officially out of things to say about Notre Dame. There's some pretty huge Pairwise implications if either team sweeps this series, however, with both teams being pretty close to the bubble.
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