Big Ten Hockey Weekly Release
BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Minnesota’s Bill Baker: Baker, who earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1979, tallied 118 points (30 goals, 88 assists) in 154 career games for the Gophers. The defenseman led Minnesota to national championships in 1975-76 and 1978-79, serving as the team captain in his final season. Baker was named a first-team All-American in 1979 and went on to earn a spot on the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. He played 143 games in the NHL before starting a new career as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Brainerd, Minn.
Going for Gold: Fourteen players from Big Ten schools will take part in 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 and former Gopher Todd Richards will serve as assistant coaches for 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 set for Feb. 23.
On the Air: Four of this weekend’s six conference games will be carried live on national television, with all six teams making at least one appearance. Friday marks the sixth of eight consecutive “Frozen Friday” doubleheaders on BTN. This week’s contests include Michigan State at Penn State at 6:30 p.m. ET, and Michigan at Minnesota at 9 p.m. On Saturday, the Spartans and Nittany Lions will conclude their series at 3:30 p.m., on ESPNEWS, while Ohio State will host Wisconsin at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.
Brick Walls: A common theme across the conference this season has been strong play between the pipes. Four Big Ten goalies rank among the top 12 nationally in save percentage: Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel (sixth, .933), Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand (seventh, .933), Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort (11th, .930) and Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox (12th, .930). A fifth goalie, Ohio State’s Christian Frey, boasts a .935 save percentage but has not yet met the minimum number of games played to be included in the national rankings.
Coaching Milestones: A pair of Big Ten coaches are closing in on or have reached career milestones. Last Friday, Michigan head coach Red Berenson tied Rick Comley for the No. 4 spot on the Division I all-time coaching wins list with his 783rd career victory. Comley recorded 783 wins at Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan and Michigan State from 1973-2011. Meanwhile, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia is approaching a pair of milestones. Now with 363 career wins at Minnesota, Lucia needs just four more wins to tie Amo Bessone (Michigan State) and Bob Johnson (Wisconsin) for the fifth most wins at a Big Ten school (373). Lucia is also just eight victories away from notching his 650th career win.
Where We Rank: Three Big Ten teams are ranked among the top 10 squads in the nation according to the latest USCHO.com poll, released on Monday. Minnesota ranks No. 2, followed by No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 10 Michigan. The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll also slots the Gophers at No. 2 and the Badgers at No. 8 while the Wolverines check in at No. 11. Wisconsin climbed four spots in both polls following a series sweep of Minnesota last weekend at the Kohl Center. This weekend, the Badgers will visit the Buckeyes while Minnesota will play host to Michigan. Ohio State, which posted two ties and a pair of shootout wins against Michigan State last weekend to maintain fourth place in the conference standings, is receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll for the 13th consecutive week.
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.