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The Good, The Bad, & The Future: Big Ten

We wrap up our conference recaps with the Big Ten Conference.

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With the offseason in full swing, it’s time to look back at the 2017 season! We’ll dissect all the individual teams from worst to first based off my final Power Rankings later during the summer.

But first, we’ll dissect each conference and return The Good, The Bad, & The Future series. We won’t talk a ton about each team until the individual dissections, but this should be a good quick glimpse at each team. Previously, we recapped the ACC teams. We’ll now take a look at the teams from the Big Ten!

So let’s get started!

Michigan Wolverines (8-6)

The Good: This was Michigan’s best year in their short program history, and their first ever season that they finished over .500. The Wolverines began the season winning eight of their first nine games, and upset 10th ranked Penn by a goal at home in their best win for the program. They were also ranked for the first time in the media poll and went as high as 18. Brent Noseworthy’s 37 goals were fourth overall in the nation.

The Bad: Although the nonconference slate went great, the Wolverines failed to win a Big Ten conference game, and former head coach John Paul was relieved of his duties. They lost four of their five conference games by seven or more goals, with their final loss to Penn State coming by only four goals. All but one of their nonconference wins came against teams that finished under .500. Penn finished a game above .500, and Notre Dame, their only nonconference loss, went 9-6. The team loses Ian King, Mikie Schlosser on offense, and Andrew Hatton and Dickson Smith on defense.

The Future: Michigan welcomes former Maryland assistant Kevin Conry as head coach, and hope to take the next step in making Michigan a power in an already deep conference. Noseworthy, along with Decker Curran, Avery Myers, and Rocco Sutherland all return on offense, and Eric Smith as the only returning starter on defense. Chase Young is a very good defensive midfielder and Nick DeCaprio is back at LSM. Tommy Heidt assumed the starting goaltender spot with a 51.4% save percentage as a redshirt-sophomore. Mike McDonnell went 52.3% on his face-off opportunities.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (10-4)

The Good: Any signs that last year’s 11-5 record was a fluke was no joke, as the Scarlet Knights rose to even higher levels in 2017. They started the year 8-0 and earned their first ever No. 1 ranking, en route to a 10-win season, the first time the school has had back-to-back 10 win seasons. Freshman Kieran Mullins led the team with 35 goals and 51 points, while Jules Heningburg had 26 assists and 46 points. Michael Rexrode was a stalwart on defense as an All-American, and goaltender Max Edelmann had solid numbers replacing Kris Alleyne as the starting netminder. He recorded an 8.91 goals against average and a 53.2% save percentage.

The Bad: Star attackman Adam Charalambides and midfielder Christian Trasolini missed the season with injuries. Imagine how the Scarlet Knights would have been with both players, especially with Charalambides, who was the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year in 2016. After Rutgers’ 8-0 start, the team went 2-6 to end the year, with losses to Delaware, and a triple overtime loss to Maryland at home, before upsetting Ohio State in the season finale. They didn’t qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, and missed out on the NCAA Tournament once again. Connor Murphy, Jeff George, and Chris Groel all graduate.

The Future: The Scarlet Knights are sure to begin next season in the top 20. They return plenty of firepower, and bring back Charalambides. They might have a top five attack unit with Charalambides, Heningburg, and Mullins, with a solid defense led by Rexrode and Edelmann. Will 2018 be the year Rutgers gets to the postseason?

Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (8-7)

The Good: When Hopkins was hot, they were hot. They started the season 4-0, and dismantled North Carolina in Chapel Hill, 13-5. They also defeated Loyola, Virginia, Rutgers, and Penn State at home during the season. Even though Shack Stanwick led the Blue Jays in all total scoring categories, the emergence of Kyle Marr at attack was big for the future of the team. Marr had 25 goals and 20 assists, including five goals against Virginia and nine points against Michigan. Nick Fields was an All-American defenseman, while Jack Rapine was solid as a freshman on defense.

The Bad: Let’s start with the obvious: Johns Hopkins lost to unranked Princeton on the road, 18-7. They also lost to unseeded Duke at home, 19-6. That was ugly in the sense that starting goalie Gerald Logan was academically ineligible, forcing Brock Turnbaugh to man the cage once again. He didn’t do so hot, and Will Ryan and Ryan Feit had to come in. Outside of Stanwick and Marr, no one else had over 30 points. Joel Tinney was the closest with 28 points, and his quest for a Tewaaraton failed. When Hunter Moreland was not 100%, Craig Madarasz and the other FOGOs could not replicate the elite FOGO’s production. Fields, Trevor Koelsch, Madarasz, John Crawley, Joe Carlini, Wilkins Dismuke, Kieran Eissler, and Cody Radziewicz are notable players that depart.

The Future: Every year, the powerhouse program still churns out top talent. With the big losses they have this year, Hopkins will definitely reload. Forry Smith and Cole Williams could compete for starting attack spots, while Alex Concannon and Patrick Fraser might get shots at the starting midfield. Defenseman Patrick Foley should also be back after missing last season with an injury. Turnbaugh might not be the starting goaltender, as Jacob Giacalone didn’t play at all last year. He might get the job with a great fall and spring. A guy to keep an eye out for is midfielder Connor DeSimone, who was the MVP of the Under Armour All-America game. You can thank our own Adam Epstein for that.

Penn State Nittany Lions (12-4)

The Good: Penn State’s freshmen played huge roles in the success of the team this year. Mac O’Keefe had a freshman record 51 goals in a season and 56 points for the year. Defenseman TJ Connellan started 10 games and had two caused turnovers, while Nick Cardile started six games and had seven caused turnovers. FOGO Gerard Arceri went 61.8% on draws. But maybe the most impactful freshman may have been goaltender Colby Kneese, who had a 10.53 goals against average and a 51.2% save percentage in 15 games he started. Joining him include sophomores Grant Ament, Kevin Hill, Nick Spillane, and Chris Sabia to the young core. Seniors Nick Aponte, Peter Triolo, and Matt Florence provided veteran leadership as well. The team started the year 10-0 and also earned the No. 1 spot for the first time in program history.

The Bad: After beating Ohio State at home, the Nittany Lions went 2-4 for the rest of the year, including another loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, this time at home to Towson. Penn State’s defense also wasn’t the best, as they gave up 10 or more goals in all but three of their games, including to teams such as Robert Morris and Hobart early in the season. Aponte, Triolo, Florence, Dan Craig, Mike Sutton, and Billy Lombardi are notable departures.

The Future: The attack, midfield, and defensive units all lose one starter, so the team should be a force in the Big Ten once again. The next step is to find a way to dethrone Maryland and Johns Hopkins and continue to stay dominant in the Big Ten, and hopefully win an NCAA Tournament game. Jeff Tambroni may finally have something special brewing.

Ohio State Buckeyes (16-5)

The Good: Nobody thought Ohio State would make it all the way to their first Championship Weekend appearance, or even to the National Championship game. But they did with a strong overall team. The offense was led by freshman Tre Leclaire, who was Adam’s freshman to watch this year. He had 49 goals and 65 points and was an USILA Third Team All-American. Eric Fannell led the team with 30 assists and 66 points as a senior. The defense was led by Stony Brook transfer and First Team All-American Ben Randall, who had 50 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers. The junior, along with Erik Evans and Matt Borges, started all 21 games on defense. Goaltender Tom Carey became a household name after a 8.32 goals against average, and FOGO Jake Withers went 64.7% on face-off draws.

The Bad: The Buckeyes had a tiny bad stretch of two games when they fell to Notre Dame and Penn State on the road, as well as being upset by Rutgers in the regular season finale. But the worst thing was losing to Maryland twice in a span of 23 days, which was the Big Ten Championship and the NCAA Championship. Gone are Fannell, Carey, Withers, and the entire first midfield of JT Blubaugh, Johnny Pearson, and Tyler Pfister. Austin Shanks and John Kelly are other notable losses as reserves.

The Future: The Buckeyes need to find ways to replace their scoring up top and their top scorer, as well as their FOGO and goaltender. At attack, Jack Jasinski, Lukas Buckley, Colin Chell, and Syracuse transfer Gale Thorpe will compete for a spot as a starter. The midfield has no scorers available, but their defensive midfielders of Ryan Terefenko and Logan Maccani are a solid duo. Bo Lori should also get recognition. All signs point to Matthew Smidt as the next starting goaltender, while Christian Feliziani looks to be the favorite to be the next top FOGO.

Maryland Terrapins (16-3)

The Good: They finally won their first National Championship since 1975, and Matt Rambo was the first Terp (and La Salle College High School product) to win the Tewaaraton Trophy. That’s all I need to say about them.

The Bad: They did have a meh stretch in March with losses to Notre Dame and Villanova in overtime, and another overtime loss to Ohio State. But they have a National Championship, and those three teams don’t. They do lose a ton of guys, including the entire attack unit of Rambo, Colin Heacock, and Dylan Maltz. Also gone are Ben Chisolm, Tim Muller, Mac Pons, Isaiah Davis-Allen, and Championship Weekend FOGO savior Jon Garino, Jr.

The Future: The biggest question is who will be at attack for 2018. Plenty of people think Jared Bernhardt will move down from midfield to his natural position. Could Tim Rotanz do the same after a 33 goal year? There’s also Louis Dubick, Anthony DeMaio, Steven Shollenberger, and Syracuse transfer Logan Wisnauskas available. Top recruit Bubba Fairman could also start at attack next season. Adam DiMillo had a big impact in the National Championship game with two goals at midfield. Who joins Curtis Corley and Bryce Young on a defense that will now be led by Jesse Bernhardt? Not a lot of spots to fill besides attack, but replacing an entire unit will be tough.