Big Ten Weekly Hockey Release - Oct. 15

Wisconsin freshmen Grant Besse scored a pair of goals last weekend

Wisconsin freshmen Grant Besse scored a pair of goals last weekend

Oct. 15, 2013

ROSEMONT, Ill. -

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Where We Rank: Big Ten schools occupy three of the top five spots in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls. The top five is identical in both polls, with Wisconsin at No. 2 followed by No. 3 Minnesota and No. 5 Michigan. Michigan State and Ohio State are each receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll.

Up to the Challenge: This weekend will mark the start of the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge, which includes 11 of the country's most storied college hockey programs. The event consists of 13 designated games to be played between Oct. 18-27, with six games in Hockey East arenas on the first weekend, followed by six games in Big Ten arenas and a single game on neutral ice on the second weekend. This weekend's games include Wisconsin at Boston College, Michigan State at Massachusetts and Michigan at New Hampshire on Friday as well as Wisconsin at Boston University, Michigan State at Massachusetts and Michigan at New Hampshire on Saturday.

Road Warriors: All six Big Ten schools take to the road this week in non-conference action, highlighted by four games between ranked opponents. No. 2 Wisconsin faces No. 7/6 Boston College on Friday before traveling across town to take on No. 15/RV Boston University on Saturday while No. 5 Michigan will play a pair of games at No. 13 New Hampshire.

Historic Night in Hockey Valley: With a standing-room only crowd of 6,370 in attendance, Penn State opened Pegula Ice Arena in style with a 4-1 victory over Army on Oct. 11. Junior Nate Jensen scored the first goal in the building's history just 3:02 into the contest. The Nittany Lions proceeded to add three more goals in the third period to complete the victory.

Hosts Claim the Crown: Serving as the host for the 2013 Ice Breaker Tournament, Minnesota defeated Mercyhurst 6-0 and No. 13/12 New Hampshire 3-2 to claim the event title. Four of the six players on the all-tournament team were Gophers, led by tournament MVP Sam Warning, who tallied four points (two goals, two assists) during the event.

Early Impact: A common theme during the opening weekend of the 2013-14 season was the significant impact made by freshmen. A trio of first-year players recorded game-winning goals on Saturday night, including Michigan's Evan Allen, Minnesota's Vinni Lettieri and Wisconsin's Grant Besse.

Beating the Best: Big Ten teams notched a pair of victories over ranked opponents during the opening weekend of play. Michigan opened the 2013-14 season by knocking off No. 4 Boston College 3-1 on Thursday night before Minnesota defeated No. 13/12 New Hampshire on Saturday night. In all, Big Ten teams posted a combined record of 7-2-0 during the first weekend of action.

Ready to Go: While the other five teams opened the season last weekend, Michigan State will make its debut this weekend at Massachusetts. The Spartans hosted Western Ontario on Oct. 9 in an exhibition game that was seen on FS Detroit.

On Sale Now: Tickets for the inaugural Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, slated for March 20-22, 2014, at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., are now on sale. Ticket packages can be purchased at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. The tournament will feature all six teams in a single-elimination format.