The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team takes their season out East this weekend as they head to upstate New York to battle two formidable ECAC opponents in the St. Lawrence University Saints and the University of Clarkson Golden Knights.
The Badgers (2-2-0) are coming off a 4-3 win in their final exhibition game of the season against the U.S. under-18 team and is hoping to have a successful first regular season trip to the two New York universities.
With two weeks of practice and an exhibition game win, the Badgers should be well rested and poised to have a successful weekend after an unsatisfying finish to the Boston College series.
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“The BC weekend was good in a lot of ways and it was bad in a lot of ways,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I think the most important thing is that you learn from what happened and try to improve each and every week.”
Granato and the team took full advantage of the extra practice time and game experience this past week. The coach described how Tuesday’s practice put emphasis on playing without the puck in the neutral and defensive zone while also continuing to play fast.
“You can work just about on everything when you have four straight days to practice just to touch up on, stay sharp” Granato said.
The Badger’s top line struggled defensively in the final matchup against Boston College as their captain, Luke Kunin, finished the game at minus four in the plus/minus column while alternate captains, Grant Besse and Cameron Hughes, finished minus four and minus five, respectively.
“They’re a good solid two-way line and I would say they just went through a little bit of a tough stretch,” Granato said.
The leading line and the rest of the Badgers head into their long distance road trip hungry for a sweep of upstate New York. Two wins would be a big step in establishing a winning tradition in Granato’s first year as head coach.
Friday night Wisconsin will land in Canton to take on the No. 18 St. Lawrence Saints who hold a record of 3-3-0 on the year. The Saints started the year splitting with No. 19 Penn State and splitting the rest as well. St. Lawrence brings back their two leading scorers from a year ago in senior defenseman Gavin Bayreuther and senior forward Drew Smolcynski.
After the Friday night showdown, the Badgers will make the short 20 minute drive to Potsdam where they’ll face the Golden Knights of Clarkson. The Golden Knights hold a record of 3-2-1 with their lone draw coming to No. 14 Providence. Clarkson also brings back their two leading scorers from a season ago in junior forward Sam Vigneault and senior forward Jordan Boucher and should be a strong offensive front.
The neighboring teams finished No. 4 and No. 5 in the ECAC the previous season and should pose a good test to a hungry Badgers crew.
The puck drops at 6 p.m. in Canton’s Appleton Arena Friday, and begins Wisconsin’s road trip out east.