Wisconsin loses Don Granato to the NHL

MADISONWisconsin is in the market for a new assistant hockey coach.

A little more than year after returning to his alma mater, Don Granato is leaving to take an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Granato was part of what many considered a dream coaching staff for a Badgers hockey program that had fallen on hard times before their arrival in April of 2016. In addition to Don Granato, it featured Tony Granato, Don’s brother, as head coach, and Mark Osiecki as the other assistant. In their first year together, the team went 20-15-1 and finished second in the Big Ten. The wins total was eight more than the previous two seasons combined.

Tony Granato told UWBadgers.com that while he is committed long-term to Wisconsin, his brother and Osiecki are so talented that it was just a matter of time that someone came calling to give them a promotion.

“We came here with three head coaches and there’s only one head coach on each bench,” he said.

“My intention is to be here a long, long, long time. Donny and Mark are in another position.”

Granato told UWBadgers.com he has a list of potential replacements already in mind.

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.

Wisconsin drops season finale vs Ohio State 3-1

MADISON, Wis  Saturday night at the Kohl Center was filled with celebration, as four seniors were honored, all alumni were recognized and the 1977 NCAA championship team celebrated its 40th anniversary.

However, the Badgers (19-14-1, 12-8-0-0 Big Ten) were unable to finish the evening with a happy mood as they were defeated by Ohio State (20-10-6, 11-8-1-1) by a 3-1 score at the Kohl Center.

“The effort was there. I wouldn’t question our effort yesterday either,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I question the fact that we came out a little bit, waiting to see what was going to happen instead of trying to dictate how the game’s going to be played.”

OSU began the scoring just 2:46 into the first period on a power-play goal from Mason Jobst, his 18th of the year.

The Badgers looked to quickly respond, but they were outshot during the period, 10-7, and headed into the first intermission trailing by one.

Jack Berry made nine saves in the opening stanza.

The Buckeyes grabbed control of the game in the second period, adding a second goal 10:42 into the period on Kevin Miller’s 11th of the season.

Wisconsin wasn’t able to capitalize on two power plays during the period and were put in a three-goal hole on the latter man-advantage as Brendon Kearney scored a short-handed goal to make it 3-0 in favor of the Buckeyes with just over two minutes to play in the second.

“It’s pretty tough when they’re blocking a lot of shots. I think they had 20 plus shots this game,” Ryan Wagner said. “It’s kind of what coach said between the second and third periods, just throw a little fake in there and if another guy comes to block it throw it off the back wall. We can’t really be giving them all of those blocks like that because they build off that.”

In terms of shots on goal, the third period was the strongest for the Badgers, as they outshot OSU 10-5. Matt Ustaski seemed to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 3-1 after he beat Tomkins. However, the play was challenged and ruled offside, nullifying the marker.

Luke Kunin was eventually able to make it 3-1 on a power-play goal 11:37 into the final period. The captain finished off a cross-ice feed from Cameron

Hughes for his 21st of his sophomore campaign. Trent Frederic also earned an assist on the play.

The Cardinal and White continued to push for goals but they were unable to find the back of the net, falling 3-1 in their regular-season finale.

Berry finished with 25 saves on 28 shots on the evening.

“I mean obviously it’s disappointing,” Kunin said. “It’s not the way we wanted the weekend to go, but our group’s bounced back all year and we’ve had a lot of ups and downs but I believe in this group and what we can accomplish.”

The Big Ten tournament starts next weekend in Detroit and the Badgers will be the second seed in the single-elimination championship. UW will play on Friday, March 17 against the winner of Ohio State and Michigan State at 3:30 p.m. CT. Those two will play on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CT.

The Big Ten championship games takes place Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. CT.

(uwbadgers.com)

Wisconsin hockey coach Tony Granato joins ‘The Joe and Ebo Show’

MADISON — The Wisconsin hockey team has surpassed even the most optimistic expectations fans had for them going into the first season of the Tony Granato era. After winning a total of 12 games combined the last two years, the Badgers are sitting at 19-12-1 entering the final weekend of the regular season, are just three points back of Minnesota in the race for the Big Ten title and in great position to earn the Badgers first NCAA tournament berth since 2014.

Granato joined ‘The Joe and Ebo Show’ on 106.7FM/1670AM ‘The Zone’ Tuesday morning to talk about the success so far this year and the potential for more down the line.

Take a listen:

Wisconsin suffers worst loss of the season vs Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—For just the second time this season, and first time on the road, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team was shutout on Saturday night.

Following a seven-goal effort the previous night, the 16th-ranked Badgers (19-12-1, 12-6-0-0 Big Ten) were held without a goal as No. 11 Penn State (21-9-2, 10-7-1-0) won by a score of 6-0.

The series finale was held on Penn State’s senior night, and it was their seniors who led the way, scoring four out of the six tallies for the Nittany Lions.

PSU opened the scoring 10:44 into the first period on freshman Kris Myllari’s sixth goal of the year. The Badgers were put in a 2-0 hole just 50 seconds later on senior David Goodwin’s first of two goals in the game.

Penn State headed into the locker room with a two-goal lead. Matt Jurusik finished with 16 saves in the opening period.

“I think their goalie made big saves when we had chances to get back in the game,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We had plenty of chances around their net, obviously, we would have liked to start better but they came at us pretty good and deserved to win.”

The middle stanza was the strongest for Wisconsin, in terms of shots on goal, outshooting Penn State 13-11. However, Penn State made it a 3-0 game 8:47 into the period on defenseman David Thompson’s third goal of his senior campaign.

On Friday night, the Cardinal and White showed their offensive prowess, but on Saturday it was PSU who added three goals of their own to seal the 6-0 victory. Goodwin added his second of the game about halfway through the third period and Alec Marsh scored his fifth of the year to make it a 5-0 game.

In the final minute of play, the Badgers ended up short-handed 5-on-3 and senior Zach Saar was able to convert to finish off UW.

“We tried to open up more offensively as the game went on and that led to more mistakes defensively,” Granato said. “We didn’t make the most of our chances, we had opportunities to stay in the game in the first two periods and in the third we tried to open it up more and it led to their goals.”

With the loss, and Minnesota’s victory over Michigan, Wisconsin moves back into second place in the conference standings heading into the final weekend of the regular season. The Badgers trail the Gophers by three points and sit five points clear of Penn State in third place.

Minnesota hosts Michigan State next weekend and Penn State will travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan.

(uwbadgers.com)

Badgers upset Nittany Lions 7-4

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.— With a win on Friday night, and a Minnesota loss at the hands of Michigan, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team moved back into a first-place tie atop the Big Ten standings.

Six different players scored for the Badgers (19-11-1, 12-5-0-0 Big Ten) as they defeated Penn State (20-9-2, 9-7-1-0) by a score of 7-4 at Pegula Ice Arena.

In terms of shots on goal, Penn State dominated the first period, outshooting the Badgers 16-6 in the opening frame. However, it was Will Johnson who opened the scoring for UW, netting his ninth goal of the season about nine minutes into the game. The sophomore forward finished off a nice pass from Ryan Wagner, who earned his 18th assist of the year on the play.

As was the case throughout the game, Penn State battled back to tie the game about three minutes later on a power-play goal from Andrew Sturtz to make it 1-1.

Jack Berry stood tall many times throughout the first 20 minutes, finishing with 15 saves to preserve the 1-1 tie heading into the second period.

“The first period, they kind of picked us apart,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We didn’t skate real well and they came out real well but we were able to survive that. Berry made some really big saves for us.”

Seamus Malone gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead 4:58 into the second period, as his shot barely crossed the line after deflecting off of Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones. Aidan Cavallini and Corbin McGuire earned helpers on Malone’s 10th goal of his sophomore campaign.

Jason Ford netted a goal 13 minutes into the period to give UW their first two-goal lead of the contest. The junior forward finished off a Jake Linhart rebound, which came after a strong shift from Will Johnson.

The second period came to a roaring conclusion as three goals were scored in the final 2:20. Penn State made it a 3-2 game on Nate Sucese’s 14th goal of the year and Sturtz added his second of the game just 58 seconds later to tie it at 3-3.

The Cardinal and White snatched back the momentum that PSU had as Matt Ustaski fired in a wrist shot with 12 seconds remaining in the period to give UW a 4-3 lead heading into the second intermission. The junior picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and was able to convert by himself on a 3-on-1 opportunity.

Pucks continued to fly in the net in the third period, starting with Grant Besse, who scored the eventual game-winning goal four minutes into the
stanza. The goal, assisted by Malone and Cavallini, was Besse’s first marker in 14 games, last scoring on Dec. 10 against Michigan.

The Nittany Lions responded quickly, scoring just 1:10 later from Dylan Richard, to make it 5-4.

Both teams continued to push for a goal, and it was Ryan Wagner who sealed the game with two goals of his own. The first one was an incredible individual effort, dancing through the PSU defense and firing the second-chance opportunity past Jones as he was falling to the ground.

The second tally was an empty-net goal to seal the Badgers’ 7-4 victory.

“I thought we played really smart with the puck as the game went on,” Granato said. “When you’re on the road and you have a lead, with especially how dynamic they are offensively, that was a heck of a period for us not giving up many chances.”

Berry finished with 34 saves on 38 shots on the evening.

With the win and Minnesota’s loss, the Badgers and Gophers are now tied in first place in the Big Ten with 36 points and three games remaining. UM finishes up their series against Michigan in Ann Arbor tomorrow night.

Additionally, with Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State, the Badgers can finish no lower than third place in the standings.

“The good thing about this team is that all year we haven’t focused on what everyone else is doing,” Granato said. “Our whole focus has been try to get better each weekend and face each challenge and not really worry about what else is going on. Obviously, we are in a good position this late in the season and we are proud to be where we are at.”

(uwbadgers.com)

Badgers drop finale with Gophers 3-2 to split weekend series

MINNEAPOLIS — Looking to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team made a two-goal comeback at Mariucci Arena on Saturday night.

Unfortunately for the 19th-ranked Badgers (18-11-1, 11-5-0-0 Big Ten), they came up just short as No. 4 Minnesota (21-9-2, 12-4-0-0) scored late in the third period to defeat Wisconsin by a score of 3-2.

“I’m really proud of our guys this weekend, they were outstanding,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We had our chances to tie it, we had our chances to win it. We fell down 2-0, we didn’t quit and kept coming and coming but they made the play in the third period that went in our net.”

Wisconsin nearly came back again in the final minute of regulation. With its goaltender pulled, Wisconsin’s Grant Besse saw a shot slowed just enough by Minnesota goaltender Eric Shierhorn that reached the goal line before it was cleared by the Minnesota defense, sealing the Badgers’ 3-2 defeat.

UW found themselves in a 1-0 hole, 8:24 into the opening frame, as Rem Pitlick score his 11th goal of the year. The Gophers added to their lead late in the period on a power-play goal from Ryan Norman to put the Badgers down two heading into the second period.

Similar to Friday night, the Cardinal and White fought back in the second period, scoring two power-play goals to tie the game at 2-2.

The first tally was scored by Luke Kunin, netting his 20th goal of the campaign 5:18 into the period. The captain’s tally was assisted by Trent Frederic and Cameron Hughes. Kunin’s goal marked the first time a UW player has scored at least 20 goals since Michael Mersch scored 22 goals in the 2013-14 season.

“When you need offense, he’s able to get the team going or contribute a big goal,” Granato said. “That’s why he’s wearing the ‘C’, that’s why he was captain of the World Juniors, that’s why he’s a first round draft pick, he’s an elite player.”

Wisconsin knotted the game with just 15.4 seconds left in the period on Jake Linhart‘s sixth goal of the year. The defenseman threw the puck at the net and was able to find twine with Matt Ustaski setting a screen in front of Gophers’ goaltender Eric Schierhorn.

Minnesota and UW headed into the final period of play tied at 2-2 with Matt Jurusik stopping 19 out of 21 shots faced.

Wisconsin continued to push for a go-ahead goal, but it was Minnesota who found the game-winner with 5:06 to go in the game on Justin Kloos’ 17th goal of the year.

Jurusik ended the night with 27 saves on 30 shots.

With the loss and series split, the Badgers fall into second place in the Big Ten standings, three points behind the Gophers and five points ahead of third-place Penn State, who swept Michigan State this weekend. Wisconsin has four regular-season games remaining.

(uwbadgers.com)

Wisconsin opens Minnesota series with 3-2 victory

MINNEAPOLIS— The Wisconsin men’s hockey team pulled into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with a 3-2 victory Friday night at Mariucci Arena over No. 4 Minnesota.

Despite surrendering a goal 28 seconds into the first period, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team showed their poise and resilience for the remaining 59:32.
Scoring three goals in the second period, the Badgers (18-10-1, 11-4-0-0 Big Ten) defeated Minnesota (20-9-2, 11-4-0-0) and kept themselves solidly in the race for the Big Ten title.

The Gophers came out strong to start the game, finding the back of the net in the opening minute as Vinni Lettieri banked a shot off of Jack Berry’s back from behind the goal line to make it 1-0.

“I don’t think he’s let the first shot in this season,” head coach Tony Granato said. “But it was huge for him to bounce back like that. He’s a competitor, to be able to put that one behind him, he settled in pretty fast.”

The Badgers did not find their first shot on goal until five minutes had elapsed, however Berry stood tall for the remainder of the period, keeping UW within one heading into the second period.

The middle frame is where Wisconsin turned it on, offensively, as Trent Frederic knotted the game at 1-1 just 3:42 into the period for his 15th goal of the season. The freshman finished off a 2-on-1 alongside Grant Besse, who fed Frederic the puck. Ryan Wagner earned his 17th helper on the year as well.

The Cardinal and White took the lead 3:40 later on a short-handed goal from Aidan Cavallini, his sixth tally of the year and second in as many games. The senior forward slammed home a rebound from Luke Kunin, who had begun the 2-on-1 opportunity.

UW struck again in the final minute of the period on a power-play goal from Wagner, who deflected a Jake Linhart shot from the point. The eventual game-winning goal gave the Badgers a 3-1 lead heading into the final period of play.

“They scored on the first shift of the game, and that’s a really tough way to start against a top team. As the (first) period went on, I thought we settled in and the second period, I thought we played pretty well,” Granato said.

Heading into the final period, Berry stopped 19 out of 20 shots he had faced.

The third stanza proved to be the strongest offensively for the Gophers, throwing 18 shots towards Berry, but the freshman goaltender was up to the task.

UM made it a one-goal game with just over eight minutes left in regulation on Lettieri’s second of the game and 17th of the year. Minnesota continued to push for a tying goal, but Berry continued to be a brick wall for the Badgers, not allowing any pucks to find twine.

“When you go on the road and play a top-five team, we knew they weren’t going to quit,” Granato said. “They knew what these points meant but we found a way to hold them off.”

Minnesota pulled their goalie with 2:24 left in the game but it was to no avail as Wisconsin was able to see out the remainder of the game, taking it 3-2.

Berry tied his career-high in saves with 36 on the evening.

Defenseman Peter Tischke also finished with 11 blocked shots in the game.

“We battled like crazy to keep it out of our net,” Granato said. “That team is a heck of a team. They didn’t stop, they kept coming and coming and with good goaltending and blocked shots and specialty teams, we were able to come up with a good road win.”

With the victory and three points in the bag, the Badgers pull even with the Gophers in first place in the conference standings with 33 points and five games remaining.

(uwbadgers.com)

Badgers complete sweep of Wolverines with 6-4 victory

MADISON, Wis. Coming off a back-and-forth game on Friday night, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team found themselves in another tough battle on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

Fortunately for the Badgers (17-10-1, 10-4-0-0 Big Ten), they found themselves on the winning end once again as they defeated Michigan (9-16-3, 2-10-2-2) by a score of 6-4.

Trent Frederic opened the scoring for the Badgers just eight seconds into the first period, the fastest goal to start a game in program history. The freshman potted his 13th tally of the season as he crashed the net and received a feed from Matt Ustaski, who was behind the goal line. Luke Kunin also earned his 13th assist of the year on the play.

“I think the puck was coming to me and guys were making nice plays and I just happened to be there. It was a good weekend and good to get two wins,” Frederic said.

Wisconsin did not lead for long, however, as Michigan tied the game just 35 seconds later on James Sanchez’s fifth goal of the season. The Wolverines then took their first lead of the weekend 4:40 into the period on a goal from Cutler Martin.

Frederic denied Michigan a lead at intermission as he scored his second goal of the period, a short-handed tally after Luke Kunin blocked a shot in the defensive zone. The 19-year-old center then had an incredible effort to spring himself on a breakaway which he calmly finished with just over two minutes left in the frame.

“Little stuff like that with a blocked shot and I get the opportunity like that or the pass like last night, he’s obviously great to play with,” Frederic said. “The first goal, he made a nice play to just get the puck on the net and Ustaski made a nice play to me and it just happened to go in. My line, I thought it was good playing with them and it was a good weekend.”

The game continued to swing both ways over the next two periods as Aidan Cavallini scored his fourth goal of the season and first at the Kohl Center just 2:01 into the second period to give the Badgers a 3-2 lead. Cameron Hughes extended his point-scoring streak to 12 games with an assist on the play.

“He’s been a workhorse for us all year, his role has become more important as we’ve gone along,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I think it’s just his consistency, how he’s played has put us in a position where we want him on the ice. We thought putting him in that spot tonight would be a chance to play him more.”

Just under 11 minutes later, Joseph Cecconi knotted the game at 3-3 with his first goal of the season and the two teams headed into the final period tied.

About seven and a half minutes into the final stanza, Jake Linhart regained the lead for the Badgers as he crashed the net on a Ryan Wagner shot. The puck deflected off of his leg and past goaltender Zach Nagelvoort to put UW up 4-3.

UM responded right away, finding the back of the net just 51 seconds later on a goal from Adam Winborg.

The Cardinal and White finally found the eventual game-winner from Peter Tischke with under nine minutes to go in regulation. The UW defenseman deflected a Will Johnson back-handed shot under Nagelvoort’s legs to give the Badgers a lead they would not surrender.

Cavallini added his second goal of the game into an empty Michigan net to ensure Wisconsin’s 6-4 win.

“Yeah I think it’s pretty cool,” Cavallini said. “People say to play every game like your last and I think now that’s actually starting to hit me hard because when you’re younger you don’t think about it. It’s definitely pretty special but I just really care about winning and having a good finish to this year.”

Goaltender Matt Jurusik finished with 34 saves on 38 shots faced on the evening.

“It was one of those games, it was weird the way the bounces were going around the net. The one that floated in, I think their guy got a piece of it, but it was a floater through,” Granato said. “Jurusik was looking through traffic and it floats in. He looked square, it looked like he was confident and he made some big saves when he had to.”

With the win and six conference games to go, UW can finish no lower than fourth place in the Big Ten standings. The three points also keeps the Badgers in second place and on pace with first-place Minnesota, who swept Penn State over the weekend, making the margin just three points between the two teams.

First place will be on the line for Wisconsin next weekend as it heads to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers in the second Border Battle of the season. The two teams split the first matchup in Madison earlier in the year.

“Next week will be a challenge. We had two great games against Minnesota there a few weeks back. We know the skill that they have, we know we’ll have to be at our best,” Granato said. “Minnesota and Wisconsin, doesn’t matter what the records are, but now you see that one-two in the (Big Ten Conference) standings, it’s only going to be that much more meaningful and exciting.”

(uwbadgers.com)

Badgers open series against Wolverines with 5-2 win

MADISON, Wis. —  Riding behind three goals in the last 10 minutes of regulation, 20th-ranked Wisconsin (16-10-1, 9-4-0-0 Big Ten) defeated Michigan (9-15-3, 2-9-2-2) by a score of 5-2 at the Kohl Center on Friday night.

Heading into the final stanza, UW held a slim 2-1 lead, but Michigan tied the game at 2-2, eight minutes into the period on Evan Allan’s third goal of the season.

Wisconsin did not let the game remain a tie for very long, as they responded with Trent Frederic’s second goal of the game just 1:35 later to take back the lead for good. Frederic tapped in a laser-like pass from Luke Kunin, who found the freshman through bodies and sticks. Corbin McGuire was given a secondary helper on the play.

“When they tied it 2-2 was when I thought our team stepped up,” head coach Tony Granato said. “Luke Kunin made a great pass to Trent Frederic and (Aidan Cavallini’s) pass to (Jarod) Zirbel. I thought those were big moments and big for our team. They still had plenty of time to get another one but we got back after it and made a couple plays that were huge.”

The Cardinal and White sealed their victory with 2:17 to go in regulation as Aidan Cavallini fed a behind-the-back pass to Jarod Zirbel who roofed the puck to make it a two-goal game. JD Greenway earned an assist on the play.

Seamus Malone then added an insurance goal 18 seconds later to make it 5-2 Badgers.

“They became a little more aggressive trying to get the puck out of their end,” Granato said. “I don’t think we did anything different after we got the 3-2 lead, I just thought they were a little more desperate to try to make plays. We took advantage of it and made some plays on their end. We outnumbered them at the net.”

Earlier in the game, Frederic opened the scoring halfway into the first period for his 11th marker of his freshman campaign. He collected the puck off of a shot that had went wide and deposited it into the net. Jake Linhart and Peter Tischke earned assists on the goal.

The Badgers held the 1-0 lead until the opening minute of the second period, when Michigan tied the game for the first time on Cooper Marody’s fifth goal of the year.

UW regained the lead on the power play after Cameron Hughes finished off a nifty give-and-go between him and Kunin. The nice passing play led to the junior’s seventh goal of the year and extended his point-scoring streak to 11 games.

“I think any time a team scores, you want a good response. We were lucky enough to get a power play and get a chance to get right back into it,” Hughes said. “I think we executed pretty well. We’ve been working on that in practice, so that payoff was the goal and the momentum.”

The last time a Wisconsin player had a point-scoring streak of 11 games was Tyler Barnes during the 2011-12 season. That streak lasted from Oct. 8-Nov. 12, 2011.

Michigan-native Jack Berry defeated the Wolverines for the second time this season, making 25 saves on 27 shots faced.

“Our team is confident around him. He’s been the same pretty much every game he’s played. Obviously we need him and he was rock solid,” Granato said.

(uwbadgers.com)