March 19, 2014
Rosemont, Ill. -
BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT: This year, the Big Ten is celebrating 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The conference’s most prestigious award, the Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.” In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction, including 27 hockey players. Throughout the course of the season, the conference highlighted previous Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients, featuring some of the legends of the Big Ten who have earned this prominent achievement.
Tournament Time: The inaugural Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Presented by Polaris RZR® will open Thursday at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn. Thursday will feature a pair of quarterfinals leading into Friday’s semifinals. The championship game is slated for 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Single game and all-session tickets are still available at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers or online at www.ticketmaster.com. As the top two seeds in the tournament, Minnesota and Wisconsin each secured byes to the semifinal round. Friday’s semifinals will open with the second-seeded Badgers battling the winner of Thursday’s Michigan-Penn State game. Friday’s second semifinal will feature the top-seeded Golden Gophers facing the victor of Thursday’s Ohio State-Michigan State contest.
Minnesota Claims Outright Championship: Minnesota claimed the inaugural Big Ten Championship and enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed. Minnesota led the conference with 45 points this season and a conference record of 14-3-3-0. The Gophers posted at least two victories against each of the other Big Ten opponents this season. Minnesota clinched the outright title with a 3-2 overtime victory Friday night at Michigan. Junior Kyle Rau secured the win with a power-play goal 2:44 into overtime.
Big Ten Standouts: The Big Ten Conference announced the hockey All-Conference teams and individual award winners on Monday as selected by the conference’s coaches and a media panel. Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox was named Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year. Fellow Gopher Mike Reilly earned Defensive Player of the Year honors, awarded to a defenseman or forward, while Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was tabbed Coach of the Year. Michigan’s JT Compher collected Freshman of the Year laurels. The complete All-Big Ten teams can be found on page four.
Brick Walls: Big Ten goalies have claimed four of the top 14 places on the national save percentage list. Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox leads all conference goalies and ranks third in the nation at .934, followed by Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel (sixth, .931), Ohio State’s Christian Frey (eighth, .930) and Michigan’s Zach Nagelvoort (14th, .925). Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand ranks just outside the top 20 at .923 (21st). Nagelvoort, Hildebrand, Wilcox and Rumpel were all 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.
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. This is the 15th time this season that three conference squads have been among the top 12 in at least one poll. Minnesota maintained the top spot in both rankings following a weekend split at Michigan. This marks the 18th week this season that Minnesota has held the No. 1 position in at least one of the two national polls. The Gophers are 6-1-1 in their last eight games. Minnesota is followed in the rankings by Wisconsin, which checks in at No. 6 in both polls. The Badgers, who boast the conference’s best record over their last 10 games at 8-2-0, split their series at Michigan State last weekend. Michigan appears at No. 12 in both polls following a 6-2 win and overtime loss against Minnesota to conclude the regular season. Ohio State, which is receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll for the 18th consecutive week, split with Penn State last weekend.
Coaching Milestone: Minnesota head coach Don Lucia is just two victories away from notching his 650th career win, with an overall record of 648-342-94 during his time at Alaska, Colorado College and Minnesota.