No. 1 Badgers finish season as NCAA runners-up

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Despite outshooting Clarkson 41-20, the No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team fell to the No. 2 Golden Knights, 3-0, in the NCAA championship game on Sunday at The Family Arena.

The Badgers (33-4-4) dominated possession, but Clarkson (32-4-5) tallied a power-play goal in the second period before scoring twice in the third.

“As I told the team, we are disappointed with the outcome,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “But the kids played hard, played well, they created opportunities. I’m very proud of their effort, especially our senior class who for four years have done so much to help our program grow and have obviously won a lot of hockey games and created a lot of great memories for our team. It’s a tough pill to swallow. When you lose this game, you’re so close to the end. But I told them too as time goes on and you reflect on the season, it’s a special group, a special season and they are going to have some great memories to reflect on, so I’m certainly proud of that.”

“I think hockey has a funny way of humbling you,” said junior Annie Pankowski, who was named to the all-tournament team. “When you think you’re doing well and you have all the things going the right way, it reminds you that not everything is perfect. I’m really proud of this group and we laid it out there. You can’t ask for much more.”

Clarkson opened up scoring in the second period with a power-play goal from Savannah Harmon 27 seconds into the frame.

CU’s Cayley Mercer doubled the CU lead with less than three minutes remaining before scoring an empty-net goal with 44 seconds to go.

Senior goaltender and 2017 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner Ann-Renée Desbiens made 17 saves in the contest to complete her historic season. Desbiens finished the season leading the NCAA in goals-against average (0.71), save percentage (.963), win percentage (.886) and shutouts (17).

Desbiens departs Wisconsin as the NCAA career record holder for shutouts with 55, a 0.90 goals-against average and save percentage with a .955 clip.

Sunday’s game marked the end of a remarkable season for the Badgers, as UW captured the WCHA regular season and tournament titles while advancing to the NCAA title game for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

“It was a great way to go out, but unfortunately when you don’t win your last game it’s a little bit of a disappointment,” senior captain Sydney McKibbon said. “This is going to sting definitely for a while, being so close, and I thought we played a great game, but it’s definitely going to take a while to process. The group played well today, we had a great group all year and so thanks to them.

(uwbadgers.com)

Wisconsin sweeps Michigan State, earns 200th Kohl Center win

MADISON, Wis. — For the 200th time since the Kohl Center opened for the 1998-99 hockey season, Wisconsin picked up a win in front of its home crowd. The Badgers defeated Michigan State 5-1 on Saturday in front of 11,719 fans, behind a pair of second-period tallies from sophomore captain Luke Kunin.

After claiming a 5-1 victory on Friday night as well, Wisconsin (10-7-1, 3-1-0-0) rolled to it’s first home Big Ten Conference sweep since besting Michigan State Feb. 21-22 during the 2013-14 season.

“We talked about this a lot during the long break,” UW head coach Tony Granato said. “There were a lot of games and weekends where we thought we played really good hockey but only got a split out of it. Tonight, the finishing part that I mentioned earlier, is an important word in our room. Finishing games when the games are on the line, finishing plays, finishing shifts and I thought tonight we were pretty complete and I thought throughout the weekend. I thought last night’s performance was good, but to be able to follow it up tonight was good.”

With Wisconsin outshooting the Spartans 35-24, sophomore netminder Matt Jurusik collected 23 saves in his first game back after an injury kept him out of play since November.

“I think I was on pace that night (I got injured) to have a pretty good performance like tonight,” Jurusik said. “Unfortunately the injury happened. But that’s part of the game. Coming out here and not missing a beat from taking some time out was huge. I think it helped my confidence and the team’s confidence.”

Seamus Malone put the Badgers on the scoreboard before most fans were settled in, sending a snipe over the shoulder of MSU (4-13-1, 0-4-0-0) goaltender Ed Minney just 33 seconds into play.

Senior forward Grant Besse extended his scoring streak to eight games with his assist on Malone’s goal.

Michigan State responded with a power-play goal, as Carson Gatt snuck the puck under Jurusik from a sharp angle to knot the game at one apiece.

Around the halfway point of the first period, Michigan State got a bounce and saw the puck slidebetween Jurusik’s skate and the post. Initially called a goal, a video review showed that Jurusik swept the puck up with his glove before it completely crossed the goal line, preserving the tie score for the remainder of the period.

“I had the best seat in the house, ” Jurusik said. “I know it didn’t go over the line. I was pretty confident coming into that break when they were reviewing it. Fortunately they made the right call and overturned the play. After that I think things settled down in our D zone and were able to control the game.”

“Lets give them credit, the first period they came after us,” Granato said of Michigan State. “They had speed away from the puck, they were energized and they weren’t happy with what happened last night. We were able to settle down and use our speed as the game went on.

“I think that we finally got to our game (in the second period) and used our speed, especially away from the puck, and we were able to keep them on their heels and keep their speed away from them. The first period, they certainly had some jump to their game and I thought we handled it well and as the game went on I thought we were able to play our game.”

Kunin finally opened up the game in period two, notching both of his goals in a three-minute span.

Junior forward Jason Ford fed a backhand pass from below the net to Kunin, who snapped a quick one-timer over Minney’s blocker for the 2-1 lead, 2:45 into the second frame. At the 5:41 mark, with the Badgers on a power play, Kunin sent a slap shot in from the top of the circle for his third two-goal effort in four games.

“Before the game, we talked about getting pucks to the net and bodies towards the net,” Kunin said. “That’s where the goals are scored. We just have to keep doing that and the bounces will go for us.”

Sophomore defenseman Peter Tischke added to the Badgers’ lead in the final period, using Besse as a screen and sending a shot home from the point. Tischke ended the night with a team-best +4 plus/minus rating.

Freshman Max Zimmer picked up assists on both Malone and Tischke’s goals, earning his first multi-point game with Wisconsin.

Junior forward Matt Ustaski rounded out the scoring, putting away his first goal of the season to give the Badgers a 5-1 advantage with five minutes remaining in the game.

The Badgers have a bye next weekend before hosting Minnesota Jan. 20-21. Friday’s game is set for a 7 p.m. start while Saturday will be a 5 p.m. puck drop.

(uwbadgers.com)

Wisconsin’s finale with Lindenwood cancelled due to facility issues

WENTZVILLE,  Mo. — Due to facility issues at the Lindenwood Ice Arena, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team’s contest on Saturday at Lindenwood has been cancelled.

The game, which was originally scheduled for a 3 p.m. puck drop, may or may not be rescheduled.

No. 1 Wisconsin returns home for a six-game homestand that begins with a series against St. Cloud State next weekend. Faceoff on Friday, Jan. 13 is set for 7 p.m. at LaBahn Arena. On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Badgers will host “Fill the Bowl” against the Huskies in the Kohl Center at 4 p.m.

(uwbadgers.com)

Wisconsin beats Northern Michigan 6-5

GREEN BAY, Wis.—The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0) won a high-scoring, back-and-forth game against the Northern Michigan Wildcats (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0) 6-5 on Saturday night at the Resch Center in Green Bay.

The victory would mark Tony Granato’s first career win as head coach.

Penalties would once again be a factor in the game with 16 penalties called and seven out of 11 goals scored from special teams units.

“The penalties and momentum shifts a lot more in college hockey than the NHL,” coach Granato said, who coached in the NHL prior to signing on as the Badgers’ head coach. “Two, three, four penalties in a row and the game changes a lot.”

Luke Kunin opened the scoring at 5:34 of the first period on the power play after a pretty tic-tac-toe pass from Cameron Hughes and Grant Besse.

The Wildcats would fight back with two goals of their own, however, as their first of the night came from Robbie Payne’s short-handed goal that hit the post and bounced off a UW player before going in. Gerard Hanson would give the Wildcats the 2-1 advantage at 15:38 of the first on a Northern Michigan power play.

UW would enter the first intermission down 2-1 for the second night in a row.

The Badgers responded quickly in a wild second period that featured three ties and two lead changes as Corbin McGuire lit the lamp just 1:38 into the frame to tie the game at 2-2. The goal marked McGuire’s fourth tally as a defenseman in just 11 games after managing just three goals in 56 games as a forward.

Will Johnson would score his second goal of the season to give Wisconsin the lead on the power play to make it 3-2. Johnson was left alone out in front of the net and fired it home after Grant Besse’s second assist of the game.

The Wildcats would even the score at 3-3 after Darien Craighead scored for Northern Michigan with under six minutes to go in the second.

Just a few seconds after the Northern Michigan goal, NMU’s Luke Voltin took a five-minute major and game misconduct. UW would capitalize on a power-play goal from Seamus Malone to make it 4-3 in favor of the Badgers.

However, the two teams would enter the second intermission tied at four goals apiece as Robbie Payne scored his second short-handed goal of the game shortly after Malone’s power-play tally.

“This was a position these guys were in a lot last year and it didn’t go well for them,” Granato said. “We talked about being confident, wanting to be on the ice, wanting to help us win and we went out there and made some big plays.”

Craighead scored his second of the game at 2:21 of the third period, tapping in a Payne centering pass. The goal gave NMU a 5-4 lead and Payne his fifth point of the evening.

McGuire would bring the Badgers right back to even the score at five after a nifty move just 59 seconds later.

About mid-way through the third period, the Badgers would earn a huge 5-on-3-penalty kill that held the score at 5-5. Sophomore goalie Matt Jurusik would come up with several huge saves to keep the puck out of the net.

“That was the biggest part of the game, killing the 5-on-3,” Granato said. “Matty Jurusik made three big saves in that 5-on-3 and I thought our guys did a really good job.”

The penalty kill would prove to be a huge one as UW would score their fourth power-play goal of the game on the ensuing man-advantage. Trent Frederic scored his first goal as Badger, banging home a rebound in a net-mouth scramble to make it 6-5 UW. The assists came from Ryan Wagner and Seamus Malone.

The four power-play goals in the game was the first time since Oct. 15, 2010 against Alabama-Huntsville that Wisconsin scored four goals on the man-advantage in the same contest.

The Badgers would hold on for the remaining nine minutes to give themselves a series split and their first victory of the year.

“It’s the second game of the year so we’re not in midseason form,” Granato said. “What I did like was our poise with the puck. Maybe too much sometimes but our poise and composure was really good tonight.”

Wisconsin returns to the Kohl Center for its home-opening series of the season, taking on Boston College on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

(uwbadgers.com)

Like his predecessors, Granato falls in first game as head coach

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Like the championship coaches before him, University of Wisconsin’s Tony Granato begins his coaching career as a Badger with a loss, falling 3-2 to Northern Michigan Friday night.

The Wildcats took just 19 seconds to light the lamp and the Badgers fought from behind the rest of the way. They’d manage a third-period equalizer only to have it disallowed after a video review yielding an inability to find the puck between the legs of goaltender Atte Tolvanen.

“He thought it went so he signaled goal,” Granato said. “Then he went to replay and couldn’t find [the puck]. He said he had to go with that.”

Wisconsin has now lost 59 of its last 71 games dating back to 2014 but Granato expressed optimism for the young 2016-17 season.

“We learn from what happened tonight and we’re better tomorrow,” he said of the series finale. “We’ve got to find the areas to improve on and look to make a few adjustments for [Saturday].”

Wisconsin battles Northern Michigan again Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.

UW tops Victoria 10-1 in exhibtion

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team started the Tony Granato era off with a 10-1 exhibition game against Victoria Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

University of Wisconsin press release:

With all the talk surrounding Tony Granato’s return to the Wisconsin hockey program, the Badgers showed their new coach just what they are capable of. Seven different players contributed to the goal-scoring parade while UW outshot the Vikes 63-10.

“I thought that if you look through our lineup and you saw the 25 guys that played, everybody had a positive night, everybody did something really well,” Granato said.

Matt Ustaski opened the scoring at 10:12 of the first period on a short-handed goal that opened the floodgates for the Badgers. Ryan Wagner would add one on the power play just one minute later and sophomore forward Dan Labosky potted his first goal as a Badger 27 seconds later.

“It’s exciting. Honestly there’s going to be little butterflies, playing your first game, unbelievable program and unbelievable fans,” Labosky said. “I just tried to stay calm and got to enjoy the moment and the first game; it was definitely a memorable time.”

Wisconsin would head into the first intermission with a 4-0 lead after Seamus Malone added a goal with just over a minute to go in the frame.

The Cardinal and White started the second period just as it ended the first, finding the back of the net just 1:14 into the second period on Luke Kunin’s first of three goals in the game. Will Johnsoncontributed a goal and Kunin would net his second of the game later in the period to make it 7-0 at the second intermission.

In the final frame, the Badgers would add three more goals while Victoria would end the shutout bid with short-handed goal to make it 8-1 at the time.

“After the last few seasons here, we are hungry… to be winners and I think that showed tonight,” captain Kunin said. “I think that’s going to carry on to the rest of the season, so I’m very happy how the boys performed tonight and hopefully it keeps moving forward here.”

Almost the entire Badgers’ roster saw game-action as Tony Granato decided to roll out five offensive and four defensive lines with one line sitting out a period each. Freshmen Jack Berry and Johan Blomquist split duties between the pipes with sophomore goalie Matt Jurusik being the only player not to get playing time.
The 10-goal output for the Badgers marked the first time that the men’s hockey team has scored in double-digits in a game of any kind since the Badgers defeated Colorado College 10-3 on March 13, 1993.

The first official game of the year for the Badgers will be next weekend in a series against Northern Michigan on Oct. 6-7 in Green Bay at the Resch Center. UW will then return home for its first home series of the year against Boston College on Oct. 14 and 16.

“Those guys played together a lot last year and really all the lines that were out there tonight looked like they had good chemistry, even away from the puck as well. But I guess that the skill is showing more,” Granato said.

Wisconsin hockey announces captains for 2016-’17 season

MADISON | After an offseason filled with excitement, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team is getting closer and closer to starting practice, so on Wednesday the school announced their three captains.

Kunin, a sophomore, will be the team captain, with senior Grant Bessee and junior Cameron Hughes taking the role of alternate captains for the season.

The trio will be asked to help lead a turnaround for a program that has fallen on hard times of late, winning a total of 12 games the last two years.

“With Luke, Cameron and Grant, we have three guys who have outstanding leadership qualities,” new head coach Tony Granato told UWBadgers.com. “They’ve done an outstanding job of setting the tone from a work-ethic standpoint so far, and I feel real confident in their leadership skills.”

Badger Hockey Star Kunin Drafted by Wild

Wisconsin Badger forward Luke Kunin was selected with the 15th overall pick by the Minnesota Wild in Friday’s NHL Draft.

As a true freshman with the Badgers in 2015-16, Kunin led the Badgers with 19 goals and 32 points in 34 games. He joins a Wild roster that already features former Badger star and Madison Capitols Chairman Ryan Suter.

Kunin is expected to return to Wisconsin for his sophomore season under new head coach Tony Granato.

Former Badger Goalie Elliott Traded to Flames

Former Wisconsin Badger goaltender Brian Elliott’s time with the St. Louis Blues is over, according to multiple media reports. The national champion on the Badgers’ 2006 title team has been traded to the Calgary Flames in exchange for the 35th overall selection in the ongoing 2016 NHL Draft and a conditional third round pick in 2018.

Elliott led the Blues to a berth in the Western Conference Final this past season and, over parts of five seasons with St. Louis, he posted a 2.01 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. Elliott’s Blues fell in that series against fellow Badger alumnus Joe Pavelski and the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Flames will already be the fourth stop in the 31-year-old’s NHL career, having already made stops in Ottawa, Colorado, and St. Louis. He has 165 career regular season victories.