Big Ten Check-In: Penn State Falters, Cale Morris Dominates, & More

The Big Ten Conference witnessed great success in 2017-18, capped off with Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State earning bids into the 2018 NCAA tournament. And as we approach the midpoint of this campaign, we’re due for a check-in with one of the country’s most formidable conferences.

A new season has brought some change in the conference with notable graduate losses, breakout players, and a Penn State team with concerning conference play.

Conference Games



1Ohio State16842222113169434132

2Notre Dame12642001481510414825




Penn State86231125311510417757

Michigan State8623111318146713943

Standings don’t always paint the clearest picture, which is why in our check-in this week, we’re catching you up on the some of the biggest storylines in the Big Ten.

Goals Galore For No. 9 Penn State

The Nittany Lions lead the nation with 77 goals for through 15 games, averaging a whopping 5.13 goals per game. While that potent offense has carried the Lions to a 10-4-1 overall record, they’ve also surrendered an average of 3.8 goals per game, making for 57 total goals against.

No team can outscore their problems forever, which the Nittany Lions have discovered given their 2-3-1 record in their last six outings, all coming in crucial conference matchups.

Sitting in the bottom of the conference is dangerous territory for a team with high expectations. They’ll need more than leading scorers Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges to turn it around as conference play carries on.

Goaltending Sinking No. 15 Michigan

Last season, the Wolverines surged back to the headlines under new head coach Mel Pearson. They played a confident game en route to a Frozen Four appearance. 

Junior Hayden Lavigne has gone 2-4-2 through eight games with his worst numbers in three years with the Wolverines. Should he get his 3.2 goals against average and .877 save percentage closer to the 2.81 GAA and .908 SV% he finished last season with, the Wolverines would start to build on their 6-6-3 record.

Freshman Strauss Mann hasn’t fared much better with a 3.28 GAA or .881 SV%, but he does offer a winning record at 4-2-1.

No. 5 Notre Dame Cale Morris Fighting Irish

Notre Dame continues to be the Cale Morris show. The goaltender went 27-8-1 last year with a 1.94 GAA and .944 SV% as the Mike Richter Award winner. He carried the Fighting Irish to an easy inaugural season in the Big Ten. Their path to the NCAA finals seemed even easier before ultimately succumbing to champion Minnesota Duluth.

Morris holds a 7-4-1 record with a 1.83 GAA and .939 SV% through 12 starts in 2018-19. As if Morris wasn’t enough, backup Dylan St. Cyr has gone 3-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .965 SV%. 

Winners of six in a row, the Irish are putting a blip of a three-game skid from Oct. 26- Nov. 2 behind them now and closing what little gaps they’ve displayed this season.

No. 7 Ohio State Stays On Top

“Flash” hasn’t been necessary for the Buckeyes this season, not when you can run a tandem comparable to Morris and St. Cyr.

The Buckeyes sit atop the Big Ten standings, and while many may be quick to point out goaltender Sean Romeo and his three shutouts, it’s been Tommy Nappier who has carried the load. 

Nappier holds a 5-1-2 record with a 1.43 GAA and stunning .951 SV% to go along with two shutouts of his own. The pair — along with a stingy defense — has thwarted opponents, holding them to an average of just 2.00 goals per game.

Spartans’ Top Line Thriving

Last season, Michigan State saw its top line of sophomores Taro Hirose and Patrick Khodorenko team up with freshman Mitchell Lewandowski for one of the best lines in the Big Ten.

A year later, they remain potent. Hirose, Lewandowski, and Khodorenko sit third, 10th, and 17th in Big Ten scoring, respectively. They’ve combined for 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points through 14 games. Hirose (7 G, 16 A, 23 pts.) is fourth in Division I scoring.

After a six-game slide, the Spartans have gone 2-0-1 in their last three and will look to stay hot against Wisconsin in their final series before the winter break and Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 30-31.

Don’t miss out on Big Ten action when you can keep up with the storylines by streaming games live, right here on FloHockey.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

Michigan Tech & Northern Michigan Battle In Generations-Old Rivalary

It’s a Yooper hockey early Christmas present, a double dose of the best rivalry in the WCHA. In a rematch of last season’s tourney championship, the Michigan Tech Huskies trek back into Marquette. This was the scene of the crime where many pundits thought they not only “stole” the inaugural Jeff Sauer Championship Trophy from the host Wildcats, but a berth in the 2018 NCAA tournament as well. The two squads play home-and-home this weekend, 100 miles apart, in a series that has been circled on the calendars of every self-respecting fan in the region. 

4 Early Favorites For WCHA Rookie Of The Year

With the first half of the 2018-19 WCHA regular season set to pause following four games on Saturday, Dec. 15, several freshmen have a few games remaining to finish the fall semester strong after impressive starts to their college careers.

WCHA RinkRap: Earthquake In Anchorage, Overtime Thriller, & Falcons Mishap

In this week’s edition of RinkRap, we get a riveting play-by-play from Friday’s 7.0 earthquake in Anchorage, learn how the most exciting play in college hockey can go for naught on the scoresheet, and get a history lesson from teams that have suffered “friendly fire” — by scoring into their own empty net with a man advantage. 

Michigan Tech's Devin Kero Comes Through In Copper Country

The skating Nanooks of Alaska were curious when they looked over at Michigan Tech during their warmups in WCHA action the Friday after Thanksgiving. The same name was stitched on the back of each Husky jersey: “Thatcher” — the name of Tech goalie Devin Kero’s late first cousin, Thatcher Markham.

Points Aplenty In WCHA As Huskies-Beavers, Mavericks-Lakers Matchups Loom

With conference play in full force, the WCHA is set for a pair of pivotal matchups this weekend as four of the top five teams clash with crucial points up for grabs.

WCHA RinkRap: Potulny Gambles, Beavers Shock, & Ruggiero Impresses

In this week's WCHA RinkRap, we'll learn of Northern Michigan's big gamble up in the Sault, how Bowling Green's bench became standing room only when visiting USA Hockey Arena, and what's up with the metamorphosis of Lake State's Steve Ruggiero. 

The Ultimate WCHA Notebook: Reliving Bemidji-Minnesota State & Other Action

It’s the Saturday of the Thanksgiving holiday — a time when college hockey teams’ seasons are taking shape. Michigan Tech coach and U.P. lifer Joe Shawhan says “Saturday is the night the men have to come out and play.” 

Cross Country-Ice Hockey Hybrid Kendall Fitzgerald Ready For DII Nationals

When Kendall Fitzgerald coasted through the finish line to win the NCAA Division II East Regional by 10 seconds last weekend, she barely had a moment to catch her breath, let alone collect her trophy. 

Bowling Green Hockey Follows The Success Of Defenseman Alec Rauhauser

Bowling Green continues to synchronize its game to stalwart defenseman Alec Rauhauser, whose two goals versus Lake Superior State over the weekend signal good fortune for the Falcons.