Big Ten Weekly Hockey Release
Feb. 7, 2018

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• Six teams take this ice this week in a trio of conference series, highlighted by a top-10 matchup between No. 1/1 Notre Dame and No. 6/6 Ohio State. Four games will be carried on linear networks, with the remaining contests streaming on BTN Plus or the NBC Sports App.

• Notre Dame holds a 13-point advantage over second-place Ohio State in the race for the Big Ten Championship and the accompanying first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. The Fighting Irish could clinch the title as soon as Friday night with a win over the Buckeyes in regulation or overtime, as Notre Dame would claim the championship by taking at least three points from this weekend's series against Ohio State.

• Wisconsin is in third place, while Michigan sits in fourth place and holds the final home ice spot for the first-round, best-of-three series in the Big Ten Tournament. The Badgers have 28 points, one more than the Wolverines and three more than fifth-place Penn State. Minnesota is in sixth place with 23 points, but the Gophers have two games in hand on Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin.

• The 2018 Big Ten Tournament will feature a new three-weekend format with all games taking place on the campus of the higher-seeded teams. The tournament will open March 2-4 with three best-of-three quarterfinal series, as the second-, third- and fourth-seeded teams will each host a series. The top-seeded team will have a bye to the single-elimination semifinals, which are scheduled for Saturday, March 10. The highest-seeded team remaining after the semifinals will host a championship game scheduled for Saturday, March 17.

• The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games get underway on Friday with the Opening Ceremonies ahead of the start of the men's hockey tournament on Feb. 14. Seven players from Big Ten schools will represent their countries on the ice, including three each for the United States and Canada and one for South Korea. Chad Kolarik from Michigan, Jim Slater from Michigan State and Ryan Stoa from Minnesota will skate for the U.S., while Michigan’s Andrew Ebbett and Wisconsin’s Rene Bourque and Cody Goloubef will represent Canada. Michigan State's Brock Randunske will play for South Korea. [Big Ten 2018 Winter Olympics Central]

• Five former players at Big Ten schools will be behind the bench at the Olympics. Current Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato will lead the U.S. team and will be joined by fellow Badger Chris Chelios. Former Ohio State player Matt McIlvane will serve as an assistant coach for Germany, while former Gophers Robb Stauber (head coach) and Brett Strot (assistant coach) will guide the U.S. women's hockey team.

• Big Ten official Fraser McIntyre will also be on the ice in PyeongChang, where he will serve as a linesman.

• Six Big Ten teams appear in the and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. Notre Dame paces conference teams at No. 1 in both polls. Ohio State follows at No. 6/6, Minnesota checks in at No. 12/9, while Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan are No. 16, No. 17 and No. 19 in the poll, respectively, and are all receiving votes in the coaches rankings.

• Ohio State currently leads the nation on the penalty kill, stopping 90.4 percent of opponent opportunities (94-of-104). The Buckeyes are the only team above 90 percent nationally.

• Notre Dame and Ohio State currently rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense. The Fighting Irish rank third nationally and pace all Big Ten teams by allowing just 2.00 goals per game, while the Buckeyes check in at No. 7 at 2.21.