BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Wisconsin’s John Johannson: Johannson, who earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1984, recorded 176 points (64 goals, 112 assists) in 171 career games for the Badgers. His career point total is still tied for the 12th most in school history. Johannson helped lead Wisconsin to three straight national championship games, claiming NCAA titles in 1981 and 1983. Named the captain of the 1983-84 team, Johannson played professionally in the NHL and in Austria before moving into the real estate business in Minnesota.
The Race for the Championship: With two weekends left in the regular season, Minnesota has 38 points and a seven-point advantage over second-place Wisconsin. The Gophers can clinch the outright Big Ten Championship as early as Friday night at Ohio State with a win and a Penn State win over Wisconsin. Minnesota would clinch the outright title with a pair of wins this weekend, regardless of other outcomes. Wisconsin and Michigan are both still in the running for the Big Ten Championship but must close to within six points of the Gophers to stay in contention for the final weekend.
Brick Walls: Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort, Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand, Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox and Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel are among the 18 candidates for the inaugural Mike Richter Award, which honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men’s hockey. The award will be presented at the 2014 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Philadelphia. The finalists and winner will be selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media. All four nominees rank among the top 14 nationally in save percentage. Rumpel ranks third in the country (.936 save percentage), followed by Wilcox (sixth, .932), Hildebrand (ninth, .931) and Nagelvoort (14th, .927). The award is named after Mike Richter, who played for the Badgers from 1985-87.
Dominant Defenses: Five Big Ten teams rank among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, led by Minnesota. The Gophers have recorded an NCAA best 1.91 goals against per game, conceding just 61 goals in 32 games. Michigan State ranks 13th at 2.35 goals per game, followed by Wisconsin (16th, 2.43), Michigan (19th, 2.57) and Ohio State (25th, 2.67). Minnesota’s defense has been even stingier in conference play, allowing just 1.62 goals per game through 16 conference contests. Wisconsin (2.12 goals against), Michigan State (2.31) and Ohio State (2.62) are each allowing less than three goals per game in conference games.
Coaching Milestones: Minnesota head coach Don Lucia recently reached one career milestone and is closing in on another. With the team’s two wins over Penn State last weekend, Lucia tied Amo Bessone (Michigan State) and Bob Johnson (Wisconsin) for the fifth most wins at a Big Ten school (367). Lucia is also just four victories away from notching his 650th career win, with an overall record of 646-341-93 during his time at Alaska, Colorado College and Minnesota.
Where We Rank: Three Big Ten teams are ranked among the nation’s top 12 according to the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls released on Monday. Minnesota reclaimed the top spot in both rankings following a weekend sweep of Penn State. This marks the 16th week this season that Minnesota has held the No. 1 position in at least one of the two national polls. The Gophers, who are 14-2-4 in their last 20 games, visit Ohio State this weekend, with the Buckeyes receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll for the 16th consecutive week. Wisconsin moved up one spot to No. 5 in both polls, giving the Big Ten at least two teams in the top five for the 13th week this season. The Badgers will make their first visit to Penn State this weekend. Michigan climbed to No. 11 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and No. 12 in the USCHO.com poll after claiming four points in a home-and-home series with Ohio State last weekend. The Wolverines will take part in another home-and-home series this weekend, this time with in-state rival Michigan State.
On Sale Now: Single-game and all-session 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. Tickets 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.