BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT - Minnesota’s Michael J. Polich: Polich, who earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1975, helped lead Minnesota to its first NCAA championship in 1974. The Hibbing, Minn., native paced the Gophers in scoring for three straight seasons, tallying 159 career points (70 goals, 89 assists) in 149 career games. As a senior in 1974-75, Polich was named a first-team All-American after notching 25 goals and 62 points. He went on to play in 226 games in the NHL, including three seasons with the Minnesota North Stars.
Where We Rank: Minnesota is the unanimous No. 1 selection in both national polls and has appeared at No. 1 in one or both polls every week since Oct. 21. The Gophers are off to their best start since 2006-07, when the team was 18-1-3 through 22 games en route to the NCAA West Regional Final. Minnesota posted a pair of wins over Ohio State last weekend, including a 1-0 victory in the 2014 Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium on Friday. Wisconsin, which was idle last weekend, remained at No. 9 in both polls. The Badgers host the Buckeyes this weekend, who are receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll for the 10th consecutive week. Michigan, which was also idle last weekend, fell one spot to No. 14 in both polls. The Wolverines will face Michigan State Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit and Friday night at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Mich.
Meeting at “The Joe”: When Michigan and Michigan State meet on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, it will mark the 50th meeting between the two rivals at the home of the Detroit Red Wings. Since taking the ice against each other at “The Joe” for the first time on Dec. 28, 1979, the Wolverines hold a 26-18-5 edge against the Spartans. The two schools have played at least one regular season game at Joe Louis Arena in every season since 1990-91. The Wolverines enter Thursday’s matchup having won the last four meetings between the schools at Joe Louis Arena.
On the Air: Friday marks the third “Frozen Friday” doubleheader on BTN. For eight consecutive weeks, BTN will carry conference matchups at 6:30 and 9 p.m. ET. This week’s contests include Michigan at Michigan State at 6:30 p.m., and Ohio State at Wisconsin at 9 p.m. Last week’s broadcast featured the first two shutouts in Big Ten play as Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand and Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox each held the opposition scoreless.
Lighting the Lamp: Buoyed by three of the nation’s top five offenses, Big Ten teams are averaging a national-best 3.08 goals per game this season, well ahead of the national average of 2.82 goals per game. The Gophers, who rank second nationally with 3.82 goals per game, have scored four or more goals in 12 of their 22 games this season. The Buckeyes and Badgers are tied for fourth in the nation in scoring at 3.55 goals per game. Ohio State has scored four or more goals in 10 of their 20 contests while Wisconsin leads all Big Ten teams in conference play with 3.83 goals per contest.
Going for Gold: Fourteen players from Big Ten schools have been named to rosters for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Ten players earned spots on the U.S. roster, including Max Pacioretty from Michigan, Ryan Miller of Michigan State, Phil Kessel, Paul Martin and Blake Wheeler from Minnesota, Ryan Kesler of Ohio State and Ryan McDonagh, Joe Pavelski, Derek Stepan and Ryan Suter from Wisconsin. In addition, former Badger Tony Granato will serve as an assistant coach of the U.S. squad. Brian Lebler from Michigan and Thomas Vanek of Minnesota were each named to the Austrian team, Carl Hagelin from Michigan will skate for Sweden and former Spartan Duncan Keith will look to help Canada defend its gold medal from 2010. The men’s hockey tournament will begin on Feb. 12 with the gold medal game scheduled for Feb. 23.
On Sale Now: Tickets for the inaugural Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Presented by Polaris RZR®, slated for March 20-22 at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., are currently on sale. Ticket packages can be purchased at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers or online at www.ticketmaster.com. The tournament will feature all six teams in a single-elimination format.