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.

(uwbadgers.com)

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.”

(uwbadgers.com)

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)

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.

 

B1G Media Days: Badgers not concerned about schedule

CHICAGO — Much has been made about Wisconsin football’s difficult schedule for the 2016 season, but the Badgers remained calm during questioning at the Big Ten Media Days on Tuesday.

“You guys are probably eating it up,” senior linebacker Vince Biegel told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “A lot of story lines here; you can’t write this up. Dave Aranda leaving University of Wisconsin [and] going to LSU. They’ve got Leonard Fournette. Big time game; It’s at Lambeau Field.”

That’s just the beginning of a very difficult 2016 schedule, which features a stretch from Sept. 24 to Oct. 29 against Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, and Nebraska. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has hopes to give Wisconsin a challenge.

“I respect Wisconsin’s football team and I hate to say it, but I’m not concerned who they play after us,” Dantonio said during a podium session Tuesday afternoon. “I’m just concerned who they’re playing before us…They’ll come to East Lansing and it’ll be a great opponent.”

Wisconsin then travels to Michigan who they haven’t played since 2010 due to a quirk in the conference schedule. The Badgers have won their last two meetings with the Wolverines, but UM holds a 49-14-1 all-time record against the UW. Badgers senior defensive back Sojourn Shelton embraces the challenge.

“They’re just one of those teams you can’t shy away from…I hear it’s a crazy atmosphere [at Michigan Stadium] and they’re a good, solid team. They have a lot of good, solid players. Of course, everyone will pick them to be this and that but at the same time, when game time comes around, all the team’s have got to put it together.”

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst took a similar stance when making his opening remarks Tuesday morning.

 

Wisconsin will report to fall camp on Aug. 7 for media availability and will hold their first practice the following day up until their Sept. 3 meeting with LSU at Lambeau Field.

(Video) Dare Ogunbowale has an inspiring message at B1G Kickoff Luncheon

Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale was selected to give the key note address at Tuesday’s Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago, and the senior running back didn’t disappoint.

A Milwaukee native, Ogunbowale took some playful shots at the media to open the speech, and then spoke about his journey from walk-on defensive back to being the Badgers leading rusher a season ago. But it was how he closed his remarks that resonated with those in attendance. He reminded the players in the room that their status as athletes should be put to good use — not just on the field but also outside of the stadium.

“Being in our position, we’ve been blessed with a collection of characteristics and gifts,” Ogunbowale said. “And through these roles we’ve been able to be solve problems, conquer obstacles, make people smile, and most importantly, be leaders. We are all leaders. So the next time you hear someone react to what’s going on in the world by saying, ‘Somebody should do something,’ know that you have everything that it takes to be that somebody.”

You can view the full speech below, as well as a transcript of his remarks.

Transcript:

Wow, the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. I remember watching Big Ten Media Days back home in Milwaukee with my older brother as an incoming freshman. I was still home because I hadn’t yet found out I was going to be given a roster spot until midway through fall camp when one opened up. Still grateful he decided to quit.

Fast forward four years and now I am truly honored to be able to speak on behalf of my fellow Big Ten football players here at the kickoff luncheon, especially with Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler in our thoughts.

But today I know a lot more about “media day” than I did back then. Back when I was watching it at home with my big brother, I was like man it must be awesome to be sitting there getting asked questions by these awesome people holding microphones who just want to know all of these great things about you. Yeah…

I quickly realized these interviews are not as fun as they look on TV. I think it’s because some reporters just ask questions that they know the answer to. For example, “Was it difficult to have to replace Melvin Gordon last season after the record breaking season he had the year before?” Ummm … Did you not see what that guy was doing? I’m not sure if anyone could replace him. But I did have a little record of my own. I think that my last name was pronounced differently in every game this season. So yeah. Beat that, Mel.

Another one I heard a lot is “Why choose to walk on at a big school like Wisconsin rather than just take your chances at a smaller school?” This one is a little more interesting because I really didn’t have any other chances to play college football. I knew I wanted to go to Wisconsin whether I played a sport or not, but it just so happened to work out that I get to play in America’s number one college sports town.

My favorite question I get asked, however, is “Did you expect yourself to be in this situation four years ago when you were a freshman?” And no, I can’t say that I did from the sense that I didn’t expect to be on the offensive side of the ball. But as far as going from a walk-on designated special teams guy to becoming one of the leaders of my team, that was in my plan because I knew that I’d get the opportunities and I just had to take advantage of them when they were there.

And although not all of you guys started off as walk-ons like I did, I know that you all still had many opportunities that you took advantage of to get you to where you are today. Opportunities that many didn’t seize. We as athletes hear the word opportunity a lot. I’ve always been taught that an opportunity will wait for no one, but when preparation and opportunity meet, greatness can happen. And that’s exactly what’s filling this beautiful venue today. That is why you all are here representing your teams and your universities.

And through football I have been given the opportunities to do many things, but to me, none is more important than being a part of a team. Coming from a multi-sport background, when I finally started to play football as a junior in high school, I quickly saw how different it was. The team is everything, and I can’t be successful without the guy next to me doing his job correctly and him having the trust that I’ll do mine. But this extends past just X’s and O’s.

Coming together as a team off the field, we learn things. And what we find is that, no matter where we come from or what our lives were like before we got to campus, for all of our differences, we are the same in so many ways. Sports can have that impact… just look at crowds filling up our stadiums to watch us play, or look at everyone who has filled this room today to celebrate Big Ten football. People that some would say are different from one another – but in reality, we aren’t that different at all because we’re here for the same reason.

Because of our roles as college football players, we’ve been challenged with another task though, or as I see it, another opportunity. And that’s to use our amplified voices to help people view the world more like we do. You don’t have to look far today to see reminders of the things that divide us.

There are forces throughout our society acting to pull us apart — or remind us of how different we are from one another. The coaches and players in this room, and beyond, are blessed with a different perspective though. Every day we come together and have the opportunity to see past the differences on the surface and truly understand the ties that bind us all together as we pursue a common goal.

In our world, the things that make us different, the unique things that each member of our teams brings to the table, aren’t things that divide us – they’re the pieces that fit together to make us complete. Pieces that make us a team. Why not take mindset beyond the locker room? Beyond the stadium? Continue to carry it with you in your everyday life. But now encourage others to share the same view.

In close, what I’m trying to say is if we can use our qualities to take command in society just as we do on the field by standing up for what’s right, we can make a difference. A huge difference.

Being in our position, we’ve been blessed with a collection of characteristics and gifts. And through these roles we’ve been able to be solve problems, conquer obstacles, make people smile, and most importantly, be leaders. We are all leaders. So the next time you hear someone react to what’s going on in the world by saying, “Somebody should do something,” know that you have everything that it takes to be that somebody.

Thank you and On, Wisconsin.

B1G Media Days: Claeys supports removing kickoffs

CHICAGO — Speaking Monday afternoon at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Minnesota head football coach Tracy Claeys says he’s in favor of removing or tweaking kickoffs in an effort to make the game safer.

“We haven’t talked about it as Big Ten coaches, but my own personal belief is if that play is obviously causing that many injuries and it’s that obvious from the data, then we need to replace it,” Claeys said Monday afternoon during a question and answer session.

Last week it was reported that conversations were already underway between the NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association to remove that aspect of college football.

The discussions come just months after the NFL had similar talks, leading to a proposal that touchbacks would bring the ball out to the 25-yard-line for the offensive team.

Claeys provided an alternative to removing the kickoff altogether, suggesting “rather than have the double teams and things like that, I would like to see [the Big Ten] first try to do it where it’s all man blocking.”

“If the injuries continue to happen on that one play, I do think it’s in the best interest of the game to find another option,” Claeys concluded.

Minnesota concludes its regular season schedule with Wisconsin on Nov. 26 at Camp Randall in Madison, Wis.