Luke Kunin will leave Wisconsin early, sign with the Minnesota Wild

MADISON — Wisconsin forward Luke Kunin is moving on after two years in Madison.

The Badgers captain has reportedly signed an entry-level deal with the Minnesota Wild, who picked him in the first round of the 2016 draft.

Kunin leaves Wisconsin after leading the Badgers with 22 goals and 38 points, helping them go from eight wins last year to 20 wins and a second-place finish in the Big Ten this year.

The now former Badgers star will join the AHL’s Iowa Wild this season on a tryout contract before his new three-year deal kicks in next season.

For his career, Kunin scored 41 goals at Wisconsin, in addition to leading Team USA to a gold medal in the World Junior Championships this past December.

Wisconsin hockey coach Tony Granato named B1G Coach of the Year

MADISON — In his first season as Wisconsin’s hockey coach, Tony Granato largely surpassed any outside expectations on the Badgers way to a second place finish in the Big Ten. On Monday, he and many of his players were honored for that success as the conference unveiled its award winners.

Granato was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year after helping a program that had won 12 games combined the last two years to a 19-14-1 overall record and a 12-8 record in conference play.

Meanwhile, freshman forward Trent Frederic was chosen as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and also the only unanimous choice for the Big Ten All-Freshmen team. Frederic was second on the team with 15 goals and tied for fourth in assists with 18.

Frederic, top goal scorer Luke Kunin and defenseman Jake Linhart were second-team All-Big Ten picks, while goalie Jack Berry and defenseman Peter Tischke earned Big Ten honorable mention accolades.

Wisconsin got a first-round bye in this week’s conference tournament.

Penn State snaps Wisconsin’s 5-game winning streak

MADISON | Wisconsin’s five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Friday night, as No. 10 Penn State rolled into town and beat the Badgers 6-3.

Wisconsin out-shot the Nittany Lions 14-8 in the first period, but couldn’t take advantage of any of those opportunities, with goalie Peyton Jones shutting things down. While the Badgers struggled, Penn State got goals from David Goodwin and Brandon Biro to take a 2-0 lead after one.

The Badgers showed life in the second period, with Seamus Malone knocking home his eighth goal of the year, followed by captain Luke Kunin finding the back of the net on the power play just 1:02 later to tie the game at 2. The goal was Kunin’s 18th of the year.

But Penn State had a swift answer, retaking the lead less than a minute later thanks to Denis Smimov’s 12th goal of the year.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Kunin said when asked if the quick strike back took their momentum away. “We have to keep our emotions (in check). Never too high, never too low during a game like that.

“We have to be better on the bench when things like that happen and bounce back quicker.”

Goodwin would add his second goal of the night for the Nittany Lions, giving them a 4-2 lead at the end of two.

A Trevor Hamilton short-handed goal just 56 seconds into the third period essentially sealed the game for Penn State, which snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory.

A late goal from Wisconsin’s Jake Linhart, his fourth of the year, and then an empty-netter from Penn State topped off the scoring.

The Badgers fell to 15-9-1 on the year, and 8-3 in the Big Ten. Thanks to a Minnesota loss, Wisconsin stayed in a tie for first place in the conference with the Gophers.

Wisconsin will look for a split of their two-game series with Penn State on Saturday night, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.

Wisconsin skates past No. 8 Ohio State 3-1

Days after beating a top-10 Minnesota squad, the Wisconsin hockey team rolled into Columbus Thursday night and took down No. 8 Ohio State 3-1.

The Badgers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 8:46 of the game, getting a shorthanded goal from captain Luke Kunin, followed minutes later by Matthew Freytag’s second goal of the season.

Things would stay that way until Ohio State’s Matthew Weiss got one by Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry to cut the Badgers lead in half just 4:28 into the second period. But that would be the only goal Berry allowed on the night, stopping the other 26 shots to improve his record to 6-4-1 on the year.

Wisconsin added an open net goal in the third period courtesy of Ryan Wagner after the Buckeyes pulled their goalie.

The win gave Wisconsin 12 victories on the year, the same number they had in the last two seasons combined.

The two teams will play the second game of their series on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of a day/night double header where the Badgers basketball team takes on Rutgers at 11 a.m., followed by the hockey game at 6:30 p.m.

Wisconsin falls 4-3 in overtime to Minnesota

MADISON — Wisconsin battled No. 7 Minnesota all the way Friday night before finally succumbing to the Gophers in overtime 4-3 at the Kohl Center.

Minnesota jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to a goal from Leon Bristedt just 4:30 into the game, followed by another goal, this one off the stick of Mike Szmatula at the 11:42 mark.

But the Badgers battled back in the second period, with captain Luke Kunin putting in his 14th goal of the season less than a minute into the action, and Wisconsin tied things up on a Matt Ustaski goal.

The tie didn’t last long, though, as with less than 40 seconds left in the period Tyler Sheehy gave Minnesota a 3-2 lead heading into the final period.

But as they did most of the night, the Badgers had an answer midway through the third period, this time with freshman Trent Frederic finding the back of the net for the sixth time this season.

A late push in the third period almost gave Wisconsin the win, but goalie Eric Schierhorn had one late save to take the game to overtime, and Minnesota’s Justin Kloos knocked in the game-winner just 1:43 into sudden death.

Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry finished with 36 saves on the night.

The loss dropped the Badgers to 10-8-1 on the year and 3-2 in Big Ten play.

The two teams will play again Saturday night with the puck dropping at 5 p.m.

Wisconsin scores 5 goals in the second period, beats Michigan 7-4

Tony Granato’s first Big Ten game as Wisconsin’s coach was a huge success.

The Badgers offense exploded for a 7-4 win against Michigan on Friday night in Ann Arbor, giving Granato his first conference victory.

“Obviously, we’re happy to get off to a good start,” Granato told UWBadgers.com. “They had two games under their belt in Big Ten play, and we didn’t have any. We’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time.”

Wisconsin got behind early, allowing a pair of power play goals in the first period before getting one of their own from forward Trent Frederic.

But it was the second period where the Badgers imposed their will, outscoring the Wolverines 5-1. Captain Luke Kunin and Will Johnson each scored a pair of goals, with senior Aidan Cavallini putting in the fifth goal of the period to give the Badgers a 6-3 lead proved to be insurmountable.

It was the first time since 2009 that Wisconsin had scored five goals in a single period, and it helped give the Badgers their first win over Michigan in nearly two years.

Wisconsin will go for the sweep tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Wisconsin gets out to an early lead, holds on to beat Merrimack 3-2

MADISON | After winning just eight games all of last season, the Wisconsin hockey team picked up win No. 6 Friday night in a 3-2 victory against Merrimack at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from Luke Kunin and Jake Linhart. It was Kunin’s team-high sixth goal of the year.

Merrimack cut Wisconsin’s lead in half in the second with a goal from Brett Seney, before the Badgers answered early in the third period with Max Zimmer putting one in the net for his first goal of the season. Seney got it back to within one with his second goal 5:37 into the final period but Merrimack could get no closer.

Freshman Jack Berry got his second straight start in goal for the Badgers, saving 17 of the 19 shots he faced to move to 2-0 on the year.

Wisconsin will go for the series sweep Saturday night.

Kunin scores twice as UW beats No. 18 St. Lawrence 5-2

CANTON, N.Y.—In their first true road game of the season, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team passed the test with flying colors.

Powered by three third-period goals and a game-winning goal from Trent Frederic, the Badgers (3-2-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) defeated the No. 18 St. Lawrence Saints (3-4-0, 0-0-0-0 ECAC) 5-2 on Friday night.

Special teams would play a factor, once again, in this game as UW went 1-for-6 on the power play and 6-for-7 while shorthanded. The Badgers also added a short-handed goal.

“Sometimes when you give up a power-play goal, you tend to sit back,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I thought we stayed aggressive and did a good job and obviously caused a turnover that led to a goal.”

Frederic broke a 2-2 tie three minutes into the third period as he scored a short-handed goal after following up a rebound on a Ryan Wagner breakaway. The goal was the freshman’s third of the season and the team’s first goal on the penalty-kill unit this year.

The script was reversed eight minutes later as Ryan Wagner scored a power-play goal with an assist from Seamus Malone and Frederic to further the Badgers’ lead to 4-2. Luke Kunin would seal the 5-2 victory with his second goal of the game, an empty-net tally, with 13 seconds to play.

“Boy, are they gamers,” Granato said. “Frederic, since the day he has walked in, hasn’t acted like a freshman.”

Wisconsin had to mount a comeback in this game as the Saints took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after they scored with just over two minutes remaining in the first period. UW responded well to the early deficit as Kunin scored his first goal of the game just 45 seconds into the middle frame.

The game swung back and forth in the second period as Jason Ford scored his first goal of the season to put the Badgers up 2-1 but a goal from St. Lawrence would see the teams tied at 2-2 heading into the third period.

The third period continued to be the most lucrative period for the Badgers as they now have scored nine goals in the final frame, outscoring opponents 9-5 so far this year.

Matt Jurusik, who has a .908 save percentage in his career in road games, was solid in this one as well as he stopped 18-out-of-20 shots that he faced, stonewalling several good chances for the Saints.

This game marked the homecoming for freshman JD Greenway, who grew up in Canton, New York where St. Lawrence is located. He played in front of many friends and family at the game.

“He was outstanding, he was huge,” Granato said. “He’s made a big impact on our blue line and he’s done a lot of different things for us. He’s a big body and I think that alone has really helped us.”

The matchup also marked the Badgers’ first trip to Canton since March 18, 1989, a NCAA tournament game which UW won 4-2. The last time the teams played was October 8, 2005, a 2-1 overtime victory for St. Lawrence at the Kohl Center.

(uwbadgers.com)

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.