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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 2/15/2024, Last updated: 2/15/2024
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Week 18 Hockey Release

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• Just three weeks remain in the Big Ten Hockey season with the conference title still up for grabs. League leader No. 6/5 Michigan State is off this week, having clinched home ice for the Big Ten Tournament. No. 4/4 Wisconsin has also clinched home ice and can move into sole possession of first place with a six-point series against Ohio State. The series finale from Columbus will be the first game of a Big Ten Network doubleheader. No. 8/7 Minnesota, which has gone 6-1-1 the second half of the Big Ten season, travels to Notre Dame having split against the Irish in November. No. 14/14 Michigan takes on Penn State, the second series between the teams who split in mid-November. Saturday’s contest will air on BTN.

• All three conference series last weekend were sweeps, the last time that occurred was Jan. 27-28, 2023. A breakdown by school of the 17 six-point series this season in the Big Ten:
6 — Wisconsin 
5 — Michigan State
2 — Minnesota, Notre Dame
1 — Michigan, Penn State
0 — Ohio State

• Four Big Ten goaltenders are among 10 semifinalists for the 2024 Richter Award, presented annually to the top goalie in NCAA men’s Division I hockey. The four selections are the most of any conference. Representing the Big Ten are: Trey Augustine of Michigan State, Notre Dame’s Ryan Bischel, Justen Close of Minnesota and Wisconsin’s Kyle McClellan. Augustine, who backstopped Team USA to a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship, owns the fourth-most wins (18) in the NCAA as the youngest goalie in college hockey. Bischel has started 67-straight games and leads the country in saves (920). With back-to-back shutouts last weekend, Close tied the Minnesota career record (13) and became the Big Ten’s career leader in conference games (9). The three-year starter has captured consecutive Big Ten First Star of the Week awards. McClellan paces the NCAA in shutouts (6) and save percentage (.932) while ranking third in goals-against average (1.89). Three Richter Award finalists will be announced in March and the winner revealed in April at the NCAA Frozen Four.

• Saturday’s “Duel in the D” showdown between Michigan and Michigan State drew a crowd of 18,410 to Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena — the largest attended game in college hockey this season. It is the second time in as many weeks the Big Ten has held that honor. Wisconsin hosted Minnesota before 15,359 spectators at the Kohl Center on Feb. 3, only to see that figure eclipsed by the Beanpot two days later.

• The 2024 Big Ten Tournament will commence March 8 with best-of-three quarterfinal series at campus sites of the second-, third- and fourth-seeded teams. The top seed will receive a bye and host one of two, single-elimination semifinals the weekend of March 16-17. The championship game, hosted by the highest-remaining seed, will take place March 23. The winner receives the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.