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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 10/26/2023, Last updated: 3/15/2024
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Week 4 Hockey Release

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• Big Ten Conference schools conclude October with a full state of games this week, including the Border Battle between No. 1/1 Minnesota and No. 14/18 Wisconsin. The Big Ten series begins Thursday on Big Ten Network. The Gophers were picked first in the preseason coaches poll and are taking aim at a third-straight Big Ten Championship under Head Coach Bob Motzko. The Badgers are 5-1-0 under first-year Head Coach Mike Hastings, marking the team’s best start since 2004-05. Wisconsin has also entered the Top 20 rankings for the first time since October 4, 2021.

• This week’s nonconference schedule includes three other series starting on Thursday. No. 8/7 Michigan State travels to No. 3/3 Boston College, the Spartans recorded eight wins against ranked teams last season. No. 15/14 Penn State continues its homestand against Alaska Anchorage and rv/rv Notre Dame is home versus Mercyhurst. The Irish are opening the season with five of six games at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Friday-Saturday series involve No. 6/6 Michigan hosting Lindenwood and No. 16/15 Ohio State visiting No. 20/rv Omaha. Six of the seven Big Ten teams are ranked in the Top 20 according to the and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

• Three weeks into the season, several Big Ten players rank among NCAA statistical leaders. Trey Augustine of Michigan State (4-0) and Liam Souliere of Penn State (4-0) are tied with eight other goaltenders for top winning percentage (1.000). Wisconsin’s David Silye stands second in faceoff wins (85) while teammate Carson Bantle, Minnesota’s Jimmy Snuggerud and Michigan State’s Nash Nienhuis rank second in game-winning goals with two each. Snuggerud is also third in goals per game (1.25) and Michigan’s T.J. Hughes third in power play goals (3). On the team side, Minnesota leads the country with a 1.000 penalty kill (16-for-16) and Michigan State paces the nation with 52 assists and 81 points. Michigan sports the second-most power play goals (10). 

• Minnesota goaltender Justen Close earned First Star of the Week honors following a strong series against No. 5/5 North Dakota that saw the Gophers split two games. Close stopped 57 of 59 shots and killed all 10 short-handed situations to finish the series with a .966 save percentage and 1.01 goals-against average. A Richter Award semifinalist last season, Close is moving up the Big Ten career rankings lists. His 2.03 goals-against average stands sixth-best all-time for all games and his .926 save percentage ranks seventh-best. Close is also tied with two other goalies for the most shutouts (7) in conference games.

• The Big Ten season begins in earnest next week with three conference series as schools embark on a 24-game conference schedule leading up to the Big Ten Tournament in March. The tournament will once again be held on campus sites, starting with best-of-three quarterfinals March 8-10. Single-elimination semifinals will take place at the higher remaining seeds on March 16 with the championship game slated for March 23.