One of the biggest hurdles to early success for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey program over the past few years has been the Michigan Tech Huskies. According to a report in the Wisconsin State Journal, that familiar foe will take on the Badgers to open the 2017-18 season.
Michigan Tech and Wisconsin will square off in the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game.
The game will reportedly take place on October 1st at the Kohl Center, making it the earliest game in Badgers hockey history. It also will be exempt from counting towards the limit of 34 games in the season, according to the report.
Wisconsin has played in the Hall of Fame game five times previously. That includes opening up the Kohl Center in 1998, a loss to Notre Dame, along with a pair of outdoor games that counted as the Hall of Fame exempt games.
Those were the 2006 game at Lambeau Field vs. Ohio State and UW’s game against Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium in 2010.
Taking on this game is a smart move for the Badgers, who will be without captain Luke Kunin, who chose to start his NHL journey after being a 1st round pick in last year’s NHL draft. UW will also be without star forward Grant Besse in attack as well.
It also is smart because UW will have extra Big Ten games to play, with Notre Dame joining as an affiliate member in hockey only. That means 24 conference games instead of 20 for next season and less time to get non-conference games on the schedule.
The full Big Ten schedule will be released later today.
UW and Michigan Tech have been familiar foes as of late, however, the Huskies program is going to look very different in 2017-18. That’s because head coach Mel Pearson won’t be on the bench. Instead, he’ll be leading Big Ten conference foe Michigan.
Pearson is replacing the retired Red Berenson, who left the program after 33 years behind the boards for the Wolverines. His replacement at Michigan Tech has yet to be named, but it appears a pair of former Tech players and/or coaches who are in the USHL are atop the list.
Other non-conference series’ include home contests with North Dakota, St. Lawrence and Mercyhurst. Road contests include a series with Northern Michigan at the Resch Center in Green Bay and a pair of single games with Boston College and Merrimack.