Notre Dame men’s hockey joins Big Ten conference

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The University of Notre Dame officially became a sport affiliate member for men’s hockey Saturday. The Fighting Irish join Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin to give the conference seven hockey programs for the 2017-18 season. Notre Dame will make its Big Ten debut Nov. 3-4 with a series at Ohio State.

With the addition of the Fighting Irish, schedules for each of the seven conference programs will move to a 24-game format that concludes with the 2018 Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, to be held the first three weekends of March with all games taking place on the campus of the higher-seeded teams.

The 2017-18 season marks the 58th year of men’s hockey at Notre Dame. Under the guidance of head coach Jeff Jackson, the Fighting Irish have qualified for the NCAA Tournament eight times in 12 seasons, reaching the Frozen Four three times, most recently in 2017.

Notre Dame has previously shared a conference with five of the six Big Ten hockey programs. The Fighting Irish were members of the CCHA (with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State) from 1992-93 through 2012-13. Prior to that, they were members of the WCHA (with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin) from 1971-72 through 1980-81.

Notre Dame hockey becomes the conference’s third sport affiliate member, following the Johns Hopkins men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The Blue Jays joined the conference in men’s lacrosse in 2015, while the women’s team opened its inaugural Big Ten season in 2017. The Big Ten is committed to broad-based sports opportunities, and the addition of affiliate members helps to support the growth of sports less broadly sponsored by Big Ten institutions.

The seven current Big Ten hockey programs have combined to record 23 national championships, 272 All-Americans and nine Hobey Baker Award winners. Michigan leads the nation with nine national championships, while Wisconsin has won six, Minnesota has claimed five and Michigan State has three.

(Big Ten Conference release)

2OT loss to Penn State ends Wisconsin’s storybook season

DETROIT – The 2016-17 Wisconsin men’s hockey team was within one goal of a Big Ten tournament title and an NCAA bid, but despite outshooting Penn State 52-35 over more than four periods of play, the Badgers fell, 2-1, to the Nittany Lions on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

The game ends a season that saw Wisconsin (20-15-1) reach 20 wins and runner-up finishes in the Big Ten regular season and tournament after combining for 12 victories the prior two years.

“We took a great jump,” sophomore captain Luke Kunin said. “We put Wisconsin hockey back on the map where it should be. We even feel like it should be higher than we are right now. I think it was a great turn in the right direction for our program.”

Liam Folkes scored both goals for Penn State (24-11-2), including the winner on a breakaway 6:43 into double overtime to end the night.

Folkes gave PSU a lead at 15:37 of the first period, shortly after an expiring power play, to make it 1-0.

Even play through the first two periods gave way to Badger dominance for the third period as they looked to tie. The Badgers held an 18-5 shot advantage in the third period, and got the equalizer when Matt Ustaski poked home a rebound for a power-play goal at 11:45.

The game stayed scoreless the rest of regulation.

Wisconsin earned the lone power play of the overtimes, but failed to convert. Among the chances in the overtimes for the Badgers were a Trent Frederic crossbar, a pair of Matthew Freytag one-timers and a Malone back-door play, among others.

“Our guys played their hearts out. We had lots of chances, we made good shots on too, but they couldn’t find their way in,” head coach Tony Granato said. “Some games you battle and play like crazy and get great chances and they don’t go in.”

However, it was Folkes with the lone breakaway of the overtimes, and he found the net for the winner.

Freshman goaltender Jack Berry made 33 saves in the loss, while PSU’s Peyton Jones stopped 51 of 52 Badgers’ shots.


Wisconsin beats Ohio State, advances to B1G Tournament finale

DETROIT—Headed into the Big Ten tournament, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team knew what they had to do in order to make the NCAA tournament and that was to win the championship. The first step was accomplished on Friday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

The No. 2-seeded Badgers (20-14-1) took down third-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (21-11-6) in a tightly-contested game by a score of 2-1, advancing UW into the championship game on Saturday night.

“I think today’s game is what you want to see in college hockey,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I think every inch of ice was battled for and it was two teams that understood what was available to them. I thought our guys played one of their most solid games of the year.”

The first period was evenly played, with Wisconsin having a slight 7-6 shot advantage. Luke Kunin opened the scoring 17 minutes into the frame after collecting a rebound in front of the goal and firing it passed OSU goaltender Matt Tomkins. The captain’s 22nd goal of the year was assisted by JD Greenway and Tim Davison.

Thanks to the goal, the Badgers held a one-goal lead heading into the first intermission. Jack Berry, who made several key saves in the beginning of the period, finished with six stops in the stanza.

“When Matt (Jurusik) went down and Jack (Berry) had to step in the first time, I think that’s when we realized he was an amazing goalie and he’s been stepping it up ever since,” Will Johnson said.

The Cardinal and White looked to build a lead in the second period, but Ohio State’s top-ranked power play capitalized on a Ryan Wagner tripping penalty on Dakota Joshua’s 12th goal of the year to tie the game at 1-1 with 6:12 remaining in the middle frame.

Despite giving up a goal, the Badgers limited Ohio State to just 13 shots through the first two periods while holding a 22-13 shot advantage in that time period.

With UW’s season on the line heading into the third period, Johnson netted his 10th goal of the year just 1:30 into the final period of regulation to put the Badgers up 2-1, a lead they would not relinquish. The sophomore forward slotted the puck into an empty net following a great pass from Seamus Malone. Senior Aidan Cavallini also added his sixth assist of the season on the game-winning goal.

“It all started with him (Malone) winning the face-off and we were able to get the puck out of the defensive zone,” Johnson said. “That first move he made around the defenseman was unbelievable and him getting the puck over to me, I just had to tap the puck in.”

The Buckeyes continued to push for a tying goal but a five-minute major and game misconduct assessed to defenseman Josh Healey with 2:28 remaining in the game gave the Badgers a five-minute power play. UW was able to pass around the puck for most of the extended power play and saw out the rest of the game without any threat towards their net.

Berry finished with 23 saves on 24 shots in the game.

With the win, Wisconsin improved to 16-1-1 when scoring first.

“At the beginning of the week, we just talked about sticking to the game plan and wearing the other team out,” Kunin said. “We were able to do that for all three periods and everyone bought in to what we had to do in order to be successful tonight.”


Badgers hold off Hoosiers 70-60 to advance to Big Ten tournament semifinals

WASHINGTON D.C. | For the third time this season the Badger men’s basketball team beat Indiana | this time for a trip to the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Wisconsin won 70-60 and was led Bronson Koenig who scored 16 points and hit 4-of-5 three pointers. Ethan Happ also scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds. Zach Showalter added 12 points and Nigel Hayes 10.

Hayes was forced to sit much of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. It was the second straight game the Badgers lost one of their stars to early foul trouble. In both cases Wisconsin was able to weather the storm. Last Sunday it was Koenig against against Minnesota and Friday night Hayes against Indiana.  Hayes hit his first two shots and had 6 points in the first five minutes but then picked up his second foul.  Six Badgers helped pick up the slack scoring five or more points in the first half.

Wisconsin came into the Big Ten tournament as the #2 seed but took the court as the top seed remaining because #1 seed Purdue lost to Michigan on Friday. The Badgers will play either Maryland or Northwestern Saturday afternoon in a Big Ten tournament semifinal.


Wisconsin tops Michigan State 6-3

EAST LANSING, Mich.—Following their sweep over No. 8 Ohio State last weekend and the team’s first USCHO ranking in over two years, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team continued their momentum in East Lansing on Friday.

The 18th-ranked Badgers (14-8-1, 7-2-0-0 Big Ten) defeated Michigan State (5-16-2, 1-7-1-0) by a score of 6-3 after scoring five goals in the first two periods at Munn Ice Arena.

“I think they should feel good about themselves,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We did a lot of things, they scored five goals and we made plays when we had to. I felt the first two periods we played really solid defensively.”

The five-goal output came in just 30:02 of game-time, which was the fastest UW has reached five goals since Oct. 29, 2011, when the Badgers reached the mark in 23:03 against Omaha.

Trent Frederic began the scoring outburst just 5:28 into the first period after netting a wrist-shot from the slot off a pass from Jake Linhart. The freshman’s eighth goal of the season was also assisted by Max Zimmer.

Luke Kunin would double the Badgers’ lead 3:27 later after making a strong move to the net and slipping it past MSU goaltender Ed Minney. The captain’s 16th goal of the year was supported by Frederic and Ryan Wagner.

UW finished off a strong opening frame after Taro Hirose took a five-minute major for kneeing, which also earned him a game misconduct penalty after going knee-to-knee with Tim Davison. Davison was forced to leave the game and would not return. Will Johnson capitalized on the five-minute man-advantage with a power-play goal to make it 3-0, a lead Wisconsin would take into the first intermission.

“One thing you can say about our team is that it doesn’t matter what the score is, they’ll slide in front of one and take a big shot,” Granato said. “That’s one thing we’ve been focused on. We don’t like it when people score against us and that’s been really solid for us all year.”

MSU switched goalies after the first period, turning to John Lethemon in relief.

The Cardinal and White picked up where they had left off to start the second period as Aidan Cavallini scored his second goal in as many games to extend the lead to four. The senior picked up a loose puck in front of the MSU net and calmly fired it past Lethemon for his third goal of the season.

The Spartans had an immediate answer, however, as they scored just 50 seconds later to cut the UW lead to 4-1 with 13 minutes to play in the middle period.

As was the case for most of the game, the Badgers had a response to the Michigan State tally when Ryan Wagner scored his sixth goal of the season to restore the four-goal lead. The junior’s goal was assisted on a nice feed from behind the net from Cameron Hughes with Peter Tischke getting the secondary assist.

Wisconsin carried the 5-1 lead into the second intermission as Jack Berry stopped 7-out-of-8 shots in the period.

MSU made the game interesting in the third period, scoring two goals in 2:45 to cut the Badgers’ lead to 5-3 with just over seven minutes to go in regulation.

Despite the offensive push from the Spartans, UW shut the door for the rest of the game and sealed their 6-3 victory on a Trent Frederic empty-net goal. Grant Besse earned his 15th assist of the year on the play.

“They played hard,” Granato said. “They kept coming and got themselves back in the game for sure. But we did what we needed to do in the beginning of the game.”

Jack Berry made 20 saves on 23 shots he faced to give him his seventh win of his freshman campaign.


Wisconsin overcomes poor shooting to beat Rutgers in overtime

NEW YORK — Ethan Happ’s career-high 32 points helped lead an inconsistent No. 15 Wisconsin past Rutgers at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon 61-54 in overtime.

Wisconsin overcame a nine-point deficit late in regulation thanks to poor free throw shooting down the stretch for Rutgers, sending the contest to overtime tied at 45. The Badgers shot just 27.8 percent (15-of-54) from the field in regulation and an uncharacteristic 12 percent (3-of-25) from three-point range.

Despite those shortcomings, the Badgers were able to make the necessary adjustments to win their fifth game in a row and improve to 7-1 in conference play. Those adjustments included forcing the Scarlet Knights to try and beat the Badgers at the free throw line, where they were just 1-for-5 down the stretch of regulation. In overtime, Rutgers’ struggles came from the field, where they went on a 4:14 drought before Nigel Johnson gave his team anything to feel confident about.

Wisconsin finishes the two-game road trip Tuesday night when they visit Illinois at 8 p.m. CT.

Big Ten East division goes 0-5 in bowl games this season

PASADENA, Calif. — After scoring 49 points in the second and third quarters to take a commanding lead over USC in the Rose Bowl, Penn State was outscored 17-0 in the final 15 minutes as a microcosm of the postseason for teams in the Big Ten East division.

It started the day after Christmas, with Maryland falling to Boston College 36-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl. Indiana followed that up on Dec. 28 with a 26-24 loss to Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl.

The Michigan Wolverines put forth a more valiant effort, falling to Florida State 33-32 in the Orange Bowl. Michigan’s three losses on the season have come by a combined five points. They also battled without star safety Jabrill Peppers due to a hamstring injury and lost tight end Jake Butt to a knee injury.

That didn’t stop Ohio State from getting blown out by Clemson 31-0 in the national semifinals of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. A lot was made about the Buckeyes being so highly-touted by college football analysts despite not playing for a conference championship. For head coach Urban Meyer, it was the first time any of his teams have been shut out in 194 games. Ohio State was last blanked by Michigan in 1993. The aftermath of their bowl game loss has resulted in news OSU’s quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck is leaving for Texas.

While Ohio State enters the offseason looking to fill a coaching vacancy, analyst Kirk Herbstreit still believes Penn State will remain in the top five of college football during next season’s first set of rankings.

The Big Ten West didn’t exactly dominate its opponents in bowl games either, but they five teams with games went a combined 3-2:

  • Minnesota 17, Washington State 12 (National Funding Holday Bowl)
  • Northwestern 31, Pittsburgh 24 (New Era Pinstripe Bowl)
  • Tennessee 38, Nebraska 24 (Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl)
  • Wisconsin 24, Western Michigan 16 (Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic)
  • Florida 30, Iowa 3 (Outback Bowl)

Former Badgers preview Big Ten Championship

What should we expect to see in the BIg Ten Championship between Wisconsin and Penn State? Should the winner get into the College Football Playoffs? These are just some of the questions three former Badgers answer on this week’s Wisconsin Football Roundtable show. Click on the audio link to hear from former Badgers Brooks Bollinger, Gabe Carimi and Matt Bernstein as the current Badgers gear up for the big showdown in Indianapolis.

The Big Ten will start playing football games on Friday night in 2017

MADISON — Big Ten football is coming to Friday nights.

That was the message from conference leaders on Wednesday when they announced that starting in 2017 they will play six Friday games spread through September and October.

“There has been a lot of dialogue within our conference about the feasibility of playing a very limited number of Friday night games,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “As a former high school and college coach, I have great respect for the tradition and importance of Friday night high school football in the state of Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest. As a conference, we felt it was the right time to explore additional opportunities for exposure on Friday nights on a limited basis.”

The news was received differently throughout the conference. Illinois and Northwestern were reportedly open to hosting games, while Michigan flat-out said they wouldn’t, citing the impact it would have on its fan base. Others, like Iowa and Ohio State, have said they are willing but with restrictions.

That’s the same tact that Alvarez took when addressing Wisconsin’s openness to hosting games.

“At Wisconsin, we are open to hosting games at Camp Randall on the Friday night prior to Labor Day weekend in selected years but have not committed to hosting Friday night games at any other time.”

UW’s Dan Voltz retires due to knee injuries

MADISON, WIs. — University of Wisconsin offensive lineman Dan Voltz has announced his retirement from football after a history with knee injuries.

Head coach Paul Chryst made the announcement after Tuesday’s practice.


The senior center out of Barrington, Ill. was on the Outland Trophy preseason watch list for 2016. Voltz was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection in 2014. His 2015 season was cut short after suffering a knee injury against Illinois on Oct. 24.

His 2015 injury gave way to Michael Deiter taking over his position at center entering the 2016 season — a decision Voltz agreed with. Voltz was being transitioned into a left guard position.

Voltz will still have a role with the Badgers, acting as a sort of offensive line mentor with some additional work in the strength department. But that doesn’t mean the decision was easy.