Penn State Hockey

Big Ten hockey tournament format differs from rest of Division I conferences

While the Big Ten closes its regular season this weekend, including Penn State playing at Michigan on Friday and Saturday, most of the other Division I conferences are already in the throes of their tournaments.

Those conferences have early-round best-of-three series before a single-elimination ending of semifinals and finals.

The Big Ten, however, has a simple three-day tournament of single-elimination games for its six teams.

Nittany Lions coach Guy Gadowsky, who has plenty of experiences in the other format with earlier coaching stints in the ECAC and CCHA, can see advantages of the Big Ten’s format with the pressure of single-elimination games right away leading into NCAAs, but also sees the advantage of the other format.

“You learn a lot about yourself and your team,” he said. “Those opportunities are great for growth when they’re really tough and competitive.”

With Notre Dame joining the Big Ten for hockey next season, and the conference holding its tournament at campus arenas instead of NHL rinks in St. Paul, Minn., and this year in Detroit, the Big Ten will switch to first-round series next season.