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Back-end dominance as a defenseman and two goalies are honored by B1G

Standouts from Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin honored by Big Ten conference.

Wisconsin goaltender Kyle McClellan (31) watches a puck slide by during a game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Gophers on Feb. 11, 2023 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Larry Radloff / The Rink Live

As the Big Ten race settles in the final weeks of the regular season, and six of the seven teams make their case for invites to the NCAA tournament, goaltending has taken center stage. And the importance of guys who stop the puck was underscored this week in the naming of Notre Dame’s Ryan Bischel and Wiscosin’s Kyle McClellan as two of the conference’s three stars of the week.

The Big Ten’s last-second (literally) first star of the week comes from the back end as well, where Michigan sophomore Luke Hughes set up and buried the overtime game-winner versus arch-rival Michigan State on Saturday night.

Playing before a packed house at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Hughes’ goal with 0.6 seconds left on the clock sent the Wolverines back to Ann Arbor with the “Duel in the D” trophy. The winner was the last of 13 shots on goal fired by Hughes – who is from suburban Detroit and played for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program before donning maize and blue – in the sweep of the Spartans (Michigan won the opener 4-2 at Munn Ice Arena) to go along with the goal and three assists on the weekend.

jea 1639 Gophers vs Michigan
Michigan defenseman Luke Hughes (43) clears the puck out the Michigan zone as Minnesota Gophers forward Blake McLaughlin (27) tires to keep it in in the first period of the Big Ten Men’s Hockey championship game at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on Saturday, March 19, 2022.
John Autey / Pioneer Press

A few hours south and east of there, in South Bend, Ind., Notre Dame goalie Ryan Bischel stopped 87 of the 90 Ohio State shots he faced over two games, helping the Irish grab five of six possible points from the Buckeyes last weekend. The product of Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the Twin Cities had 50 saves in the opener, a 2-2 tie, and stopped seven shots in the shootout, which Notre Dame eventually won.

Former Fargo Force goalie Ryan Bischel started six of Notre Dame's first eight games in the 2022-23 season, as a senior for the Fighting Irish.
Contributed / Notre Dame Athletics

In the rematch, Bischel had 37 saves and assisted on the game-winning goal in a 2-1 Notre Dame win. He leads all NCAA goalies with 1,015 saves this season.


After Wisconsin starter Jared Moe allowed three goals on seven Minnesota shots in the opener of their two-game series, McClellan was pressed into emergency duty, and surrendered just two Gopher goals the rest of the weekend, as the Badgers earned a split.

"That's an offensive team that has a lot of weapons," Badgers coach Tony Granato said of Minnesota, which was top-ranked in the nation at the time. "I thought the confidence he played with really helped our team settle into it."

Originally from suburban St. Louis, McClellan transferred to Wisconsin after starting his collegiate career at Mercyhurst. He had 32 saves in the Saturday game, winning 3-1 for his second victory of the season and was named the Big Ten’s third star as a result.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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