All six teams in the Big Ten hockey conference will be playing this weekend in their final series, but four teams will have a chance to shake up the Big Ten standings.
With the Big Ten title and No. 1 seed up for grabs, the Ohio State men’s hockey team is waiting to see who it will play in Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 19 in the first round of the tournament.
Last weekend, the Michigan State Spartans snagged the top spot after sweeping Wisconsin, while Penn State remained the fourth seed after sweeping the Michigan Wolverines, who sit at second.
OSU played a role in the mix-up after splitting the weekend series with Minnesota, which is now tied in second place with the Wolverines.
After 10 inconsistent weeks, it all comes down this final weekend in the Big Ten. The Golden Gophers will be taking on the Nittany Lions, while the Spartans will be facing the Wolverines in a home-and-home series.
Since Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State could all finish fourth, the Buckeyes won’t know who their opponent will be until Saturday night.
OSU associate coach Brett Larson said the Buckeyes aren’t worried about where they stand, but added that it’s hard to ignore the standings when they are posted in the locker room.
“To see that we are only three wins away from battling for the title, it almost is tough to take,” Larson said. “That’s the parity of the league, anybody can win this thing.”
But Larson said the Buckeyes are only focused on themselves.
“When you have no idea who you are playing next week, the main thing is to be playing your best hockey,” Larson said. “No matter who you play, that’s who you have to focus on. We’ve proven we can beat everybody in the league. We’ve beaten everybody at least once and that’s important.”
For OSU, this weekend isn’t necessarily about winning or losing, but about gaining some momentum and swagger as it enters preparation for the tournament.
“All the teams are in the same boat which is nice, no team gets an advantage over another,” Larson said. “Whoever you play, they are going to be good, and it’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be fun.”
But first, the Buckeyes are set to take on the Badgers in the final series of the regular season on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. in Madison, Wis.