BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Minnesota’s Jack McCartan: McCartan, who earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1958, was a two-time first-team All-America goaltender for Minnesota. The Saint Paul, Minn., native appeared in 67 games for the Gophers, recording a .908 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against average. Also a baseball standout, McCartan was a three-time All-Big Ten honoree as a third baseman, earning All-America status in 1958. Following his time at Minnesota, McCartan went on to star for the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, leading the squad to the gold medal.
Going for Gold: Numerous former players from Big Ten schools taking part in the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, made a significant impact in the tournament’s opening round, which concluded last Sunday. Former Minnesota standout Phil Kessel leads all players in the event with seven points (four goals, three assists), including a hat trick in Sunday’s 5-1 win for the United States over Slovenia. Skating on a line with Kessel, former Badger Joe Pavelski is tied for fourth overall with three assists as the United States claimed the No. 2 seed for the playoff round. Former Wolverine Brian Lebler led Austria in assists in the opening round with two. Earning the No. 3 seed after winning Group B was Canada, which was led in minutes by former Michigan State standout Duncan Keith (21:00 per game). The men’s gold medal game will take place on Sunday.
On the Air: Three of this weekend’s four conference games will be carried live on national television. Friday marks the seventh of eight consecutive “Frozen Friday” doubleheaders on BTN. This week’s contests include Penn State at Michigan at 6:30 p.m. ET, and Michigan State at Wisconsin at 9 p.m. On Saturday, the Spartans and Badgers will conclude their series at 5 p.m., on ESPNU.
Brick Walls: A common theme across the conference this season has been strong play between the pipes. Five Big Ten goalies rank among the top 13 nationally in save percentage: Ohio State’s Christian Frey (third, .934), Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand (fifth, .933), Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel (sixth, .933), Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox (11th, .931) and Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort (13th, .930). Hildebrand leads the way in conference play with a .942 save percentage, followed by Frey (.938), Wilcox (.937), Rumpel (.931) and Nagelvoort (.917). Wilcox boasts the best goals-against average in conference play at 1.70, with Frey (1.99), Rumpel (2.07) and Hildebrand (2.08) not far behind.
Coaching Milestones: A pair of Big Ten coaches are closing in on career milestones. Now with 365 career wins at Minnesota, head coach Don Lucia needs just two more wins to tie Amo Bessone (Michigan State) and Bob Johnson (Wisconsin) for the fifth most wins at a Big Ten school (367). Lucia is also just six victories away from notching his 650th career win, with an overall record of 644-341-93 during his time at Alaska, Colorado College and Minnesota. He will have his next opportunity to close in on both milestones Feb. 28-March 1 when the Gophers host Penn State. Meanwhile, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves enters this weekend’s series at home against Michigan State with 248 career victories, all of which have taken place behind the Badger bench.
Where We Rank: Three Big Ten teams are ranked among the nation’s top 10 according to the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls released on Monday. Minnesota held steady at No. 2 in both rankings following a series sweep of Michigan at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers, who are 12-2-4 in their last 18 games, are idle this weekend. Wisconsin also maintained its spot in both polls after a weekend split at Ohio State. This weekend, the Badgers will host Michigan State at the Kohl Center. Michigan climbed one spot in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, matching its prior No. 10 ranking in the USCHO.com poll. The Wolverines will host Penn State this weekend. Ohio State is receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll for the 14th 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.