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Badgers Hockey Preview: UW opens Big Ten play with test from Buckeyes

Wisconsin and Ohio State get thrown in to the deep end of Big Ten play early on in the college hockey season. How do we see it playing out?

The Matchup: No. 10/12 Wisconsin vs. RV/19 Ohio State
Dates: Friday/Saturday, October 6/7; 7/5pm CT
Location: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center (15,359)
Ice Surface: 200’ X 97’
TV: Friday: Fox Sports Wisconsin; Saturday: None
Radio: Friday- WIBA-AM 1310. Saturday- WIBA-AM 1070
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 17-9-3

The Wisconsin Badgers got off on the right foot last weekend, topping the Michigan Tech Huskies in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame game. But, the battles in the Big Ten come quickly, and Wisconsin will play host to the Ohio State Buckeyes for its first weekend series of the 2017-18 season.

If things play out like they did last season, this could be one entertaining matchup. UW took the season series for the Buckeyes last year 3-2-0.

These two programs certainly know each other well, and the Badgers hockey roots run deep for each program as well. UW associate head coach Mark Osiecki spent three seasons (2010–13) as the Buckeyes’ head coach, while UW associate head coach Mark Strobel spent the last two seasons in a similar capacity for OSU.

OSU assistant coach JB Bittner served as a UW assistant coach during the 2015–16 campaign. Finally, OSU head coach Steve Rohlik is a Wisconsin alum, having captained the Badgers to their 1990 NCAA championship as a teammate of Osiecki.

Let’s just say these two programs know each other well now after not having much of a history leading up to their days as members of the Big Ten conference.

 

About the Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 0-0-0, 1st game of the 2017-18 season
Head Coach: Steve Rohlik; 67-63-18 (5th Year at OSU and overall)
Notable: A long dormant program, Ohio State rose up the rankings quickly last season and made their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009 last season. Plenty of that team returns, as 19 letterwinners are back for a team that was one of the most prolific offensive teams in the country (3.92 goals per game) and had the best power play in the nation (31.6 percent). Can the Buckeyes replicate that success in 2017-18 though?

Returning Stats Leaders:

Points: Mason Jobst, 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists)
Goals: Jobst (19)
Assists: Jobst (36)
Save Pct.: none
Goals Against Average: none

 

About Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 1-0-0
Head Coach: Tony Granato, 21-15-1 (2nd Year at UW and overall)
Notable: There’s little doubt the Badgers have some big time scoring punch to them in 2017-18, but few expected the star of the opener to be a freshman. But, that’s exactly what happened as Linus Weissbach netted a pair of goals in his debut. He was the first to do that since Michael Davies on Oct. 6, 2006.

 

Stats Leaders

Points: Linus Weissbach, Will Johnson, Trent Frederic (all with 2 points)
Goals: Weissbach (2)
Assists: Frederic (2)
Save Pct.: Kyle Hayton (.909)
Goals Against Average: Hayton (2.00)

Prediction

Wisconsin has a distinct advantage in this game between the pipes. Not a single goaltender on the Ohio State roster has featured for the Buckeyes before. Sure, there is experience in Maine transfer Sean Romeo, but he went from playing 21 games in his freshman season to decreased playing time as a sophomore before transferring. Meanwhile, the Badgers have one of the best in college hockey in graduate transfer Kyle Hayton. Both teams have some major goal-scoring ability, but only one of them has a proven stopper between the pipes…and that’s Wisconsin.

There’s also the fact that the Buckeyes don’t have one of the biggest thorns in the Badgers’ side — Nick Schilkey — anymore.

It is hard to not see the Badgers winning at least one, if not both of these games because of its advantage between the pipes.

Friday: Wisconsin 3, Ohio State 2
Saturday: Wisconsin 4, Ohio State 2

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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