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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?

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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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Badgers hockey

UW hockey sweeps Boston College to open season

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The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey program came in to 2018-19 without much outside fanfare. Internally, there was a lot of confidence.

That confidence has been rewarded, as the Badgers swept No. 10-ranked Boston College with a 7-5 victory on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

Unlike the previous night, this was a wild one with both teams doing some incredible things on offense. Wisconsin continued the pattern of balanced offense though, as six different Badgers skaters scored goals in Saturday night’s win. 

UW got the win despite a hat trick from BC’s David Cotton. 

Tarek Baker, the big name from the night before came through tonight as well and leads the team with 4 points on the season after two games. 

It was the Badgers first season-opening sweep of a series since the 2013-14 season as well. 

“We’ve got a great weekend to be proud of,” said head coach Tony Granato after the game. “There’s lots of areas that we can get better in, but the one thing that we know we have, we’ve got workers, guys that play hard, energy and a lot of young players.”

It was also good news, as the Badgers finally were able to make the Kohl Center advantage count. It was UW’s first sweep of a home series since the 2016-17 season. 

Wisconsin didn’t waste much time in this contest, with sophomore forward Sean Dhooghe tipping a shot from fellow sophomore Wyatt Kalynuk past the BC netminder. 

In a sign of things to come, the Eagles answered less than a minute later to even the score at 1-1. 

However, UW wouldn’t let the Eagles get a lead of their own just yet, as Kalynuk went for assisting to scoring a goal of his own at the 12:41 mark of the first period. 

It was a catalyst for things to come, as UW got back-to-back goals from Tarek Baker (2) and Will Johnson to make it 4-1 at the 12:47 mark of the second period. 

Wisconsin couldn’t keep its lead though, as they committed two penalties in less than five minutes. Those two penalties were capitalized on as BC put in three goals in under five minutes to tie it at 4-4

David Cotton started the scoring with a power play effort at the 15:28 mark of the second period. He netted a second at even strength just a few minutes later, while Graham McPhee put home a power play effort at 19:11 of the period. 

But, that was as close as BC would come in this game. 

The Badgers got back in the lead thanks to a Linus Weissbach goal at 6:32 of the third period. He was assisted on the goal by K’Ande Miller and Tarek Baker. 

UW’s go-ahead goal would come from another youngster, as Brock Caufield put one home just under a minute after Weissbach’s goal to make it 6-4. 

Cotton would cap off his hat trick effort with a goal at 16:45 of the third period to put the Eagles back within a goal. The visitors couldn’t complete the comeback effort though. 

It was largely due to the efforts of Jack Berry, as the junior stopped 28 shots on the night. 

Wisconsin got the final nail in the coffin from none other than Black, who slotted home an empty-netter with five seconds to play to seal the 7-5 victory.  

It was a huge moment for a young team, but some of the veteran voices are already stressing the importance of focusing on what is ahead of them instead of dwelling on the past. 

“It was a really good weekend of play, but we are already shifting our focus to what is coming up next,” said Sean Dhooghe after the win. 

Wisconsin will travel to the state of New York next weekend for a split series with Clarkson and St. Lawerence. 

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Badgers hockey

Youthful Badgers blank Boston College in opener

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A young Badgers squad cared little about offseason projections, instead making an early statement in a 3-0 shutout of perennial power and No. 10 ranked Boston College in the season opener. 

Junior netminder Jack Berry stopped all 29 shots he faced, while two freshman — K’Andre Miller and Mick Messner found the back of the BC net and UW added an open-netter for the 3-0 result. 

For those who were unfamiliar with the names on the back of the sweaters, getting this performance in the opener may have opened some eyes. After all, UW was picked sixth in the preseason poll of coaches in the Big Ten. 

Head coach Tony Granato and his coaching staff weren’t as surprised though. 

“I would assume for the people in the building that have never seen the freshmen, they liked what they saw,” said Granato after the game. “They left it all on the ice, they play hard, they block shots, they compete.”

Wisconsin and BC skated to a scoreless first period that saw little offense. The two teams combined for 12 total shots. 

The scoreless draw was broken by Miller, who fired a shot from the circle past Eagles goalie Joseph Woll for a 1-0 lead at the 6:17 mark of the second period. 

It was a perfect start for Miller, who was a first round draft pick of the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL draft. 

UW’s lead would double less than 10 minutes later as Madison West graduate Messner slammed home a rebound from his own original shot. Assisting on the goal was fellow freshman Jack Gorniak at the 15:57 mark of the second period. 

It could’ve all turned around quickly though as BC nearly netted a short-handed goal to get right back in the game. Instead, Berry was up to the task, and it was a sign of things to come. 

“On the penalty, the short-hand chance they had was probably the point of the game that if they scored there that could’ve changed the game completely so that save was huge,” said Granato of Berry’s big stop.

“He looked big, he tried to make them make perfect shots by being the right position. He looked just solid and calm, and there were points in that game where he made really big saves for us.”

Berry’s shut out was his fourth of his career in a Badgers sweater. 

Sophomore Tarek Baker netted the final goal at 19:28 of the final period as the Eagles went empty net. 

These two teams will skate again on Saturday, with puck drop at 7pm and can be head on 100.9 FM in Madison. 

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Badgers hockey

Michigan series pivotal for Badgers hockey NCAA tourney hopes

Wisconsin’s recent momentum hints at NCAA tournament potential, but this weekend’s series with Michigan may be make or break.

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It is that time of the year for college hockey — it’s time to start thinking about the NCAA tournament. For the Wisconsin Badgers, the momentum gained over the past two weekends means they sit firmly on the edge of an NCAA tournament berth.

Standing in UW’s way this weekend is one of the teams ahead of them in the important PairWise rankings — the Michigan Wolverines. Wisconsin comes in to this series at No. 19 in the PairWise rankings, while Michigan comes in at No. 16.

After becoming the first Big Ten team to beat Notre Dame two weekends ago, Wisconsin followed that up with a win and an overtime draw against Penn State at the Kohl Center this past weekend. The points gained moved the Badgers off the near bottom of the Big Ten and up to third place in the league.

Momentum seems to be on the side of UW as of late, as both of Wisconsin’s point-getting results last weekend were comebacks.

“It’s been a frustrating first half,” said Granato at his weekly press conference on Monday. “We talked about this quite a bit in the past few weeks, because we’re a better team than our record’s indicated. We played some great games over the first half of the year, but we weren’t able to put a lot of victories in to some of the games were we played well.

“So I think that now that the results are starting to come, the confidence in each other is starting to come.”

However, the opponent this weekend is as equally hungry as the Badgers. Michigan is looking to rebound at home after being swept by Ohio State last weekend in 4-0 and 5-3 fashion.

The Wolverines sit on the edge of the NCAA tournament field and that’s not a good spot to be in heading in to February.

As for the Badgers, it’s not only the points gained, but the how that points to pure momentum heading down the stretch of the season.

Wisconsin has found a hot hand, or should I say glove, at goaltender after some struggles at the position over the previous month or so. While senior Kyle Hayton came in as a much-hyped graduate transfer from St. Lawrence, lately it has been Jack Berry that has spear-headed this latest turnaround.

He’s been in net for the last three games, and Wisconsin has been able to take points in all three games. Berry has been a steadying force between the pipes in those three games, having a 1.95 goals against average and 94.7 save percentage. He was brilliant in Wisconsin’s 5-0 shutout of previously B1G-unbeaten Notre Dame, stopping all 41 shots faced in that game alone.

UW’s offense has always played well, but freshman are continuing to step up instead of shrinking against higher competition. To date, Wisconsin’s newcomers have accounted for 82 points on the season. That includes

This series in Ann Arbor is also critical because the Badgers face two of their biggest foes of the season following the Michigan series. UW will host Minnesota next weekend and then travel to Columbus to take on a top 10 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes team.

Getting a positive result this weekend sets the Badgers up for a great chance to make a run to the NCAA tournament. Failing to earn points this weekend pretty much would put the nail in UW’s NCAA tournament hopes though.

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Badgers hockey

Badgers hockey hands Notre Dame its first Big Ten loss

Badgers end Notre Dame’s undefeated open to Big Ten play with an emphatic 5-0 result at the United Center and provide boost towards NCAA tourney hopes.

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Chicago — Notre Dame hockey’s introduction to the Big Ten has been a breeze so far, but that came to an end on Sunday as the Badgers blanked Notre Dame 5-0 at the United Center.

The win avenged a 4-2 defeat in the series opener on Friday night in South Bend, Ind. and was just the fourth win in the last 10 games for the Badgers.

Wisconsin was playing with a heavy heart though, with the loss of legend and close friend of Tony Granato, Jim Johannson, earlier in the day. Granato was thankful for his players picking him up when he didn’t feel like he could coach this game.

Freshmen were the story for the Badgers, who got a three-point night from Sean Dhooghe and two points from Wyatt Kalynuk in the 5-0 win.

Kalynuck’s second goal of the season was the game-winner, while Dhooghe wrapped things up with the fifth goal with just seconds to play.

Sophomore netminder Jack Berry pitched his third shutout of the season. He stopped all 40 shots faced on the night en route to getting the win.

Wisconsin maintained a perfect record in the state of Illinois with the win, improving to 11-0-0 since 1963. It was also just the 15th win ever against the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

The win was also Wisconsin’s first against Notre Dame since a 7-0 win over the Irish when the two were last members of the same conference back on February 28, 1981.

UW opened up the scoring as Kalynuk (2) went nearly coast-to-coast for a wrap-around goal at the 15:07 mark of the first period. Assists went to Jake Linhart and Jason Dhooghe.

The goal came just over 30 seconds after the Badgers had killed off their first penalty of the game, following their own opening power play.

Ryan Wagner stopped that with :53 seconds left though as he was called for a clear cross-check in front of the Irish net.

Notre Dame had 1:07 on its power play and got little out of it, but it seemed to slow all momentum the Badgers had.

The two teams traded good offensive opportunities all period long, as UW edged the Irish in shots 17-16.

Notre Dame’s final shot of the period was easily the best effort, but Berry stoned Cam Morrison in a one-on-one situation to end the chances to tie the game up in the first period.

Things slowed down in the second stanza, at least through the first 10 minutes or so.

But, a series of fortunate events lead to Wisconsin doubling its lead.

With the Badgers killing off a penalty, defender Tyler Inamato laid out for a block deep in his zone, took one off the helmet, and the turnover that resulted was to Wisconsin’s favor.

Assistant captain Trent Frederic went up ice and coolly sent home a one-on-one effort to double the Badgers lead at 2-0. The short-handed goal came at the 14:09 mark unassisted.

Wisconsin’s offense woke up from there, culminating in Seamus Malone ripping a high shot past the ND goaltender for a 3-0 lead with just 48.2 seconds left in the 2nd period. It was his ninth goal of the season.

Assists went to Kalynuk (18) and Sean Dhooghe (10).

Shots in the period were in UW’s favor at just 13-10 after a blistering pace to the first period.

Wisconsin wasn’t done scoring though, as they poured in two more in the final stanza. However, they had to wait until the final minute for more offense and used a great defensive effort to hold the Irish off the scoreboard themselves.

The fourth goal came via the power play, as Linus Weissbach put in his 7th goal of the season at the 19:23 mark of the period. Ryan Wagner (13) and Cameron Hughes (10) were credited with assists.

Wisconsin made sure to take advantage of another Irish mistake just seconds later as Malone picked the pocket of the Irish and Dhooghe raced in on net for the easy goal. His goal came at the 19:53 mark of the third period. Seamus Malone got his ninth assist on the goal.

The Badgers will return to the ice to take on Penn State at the Kohl Center. Puck drop for the series opener is scheduled for Friday night at 8:07 CT.

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