The University of Wisconsin Men’s Hockey Team (14-17-3, 8-13-2-1 Big Ten) finished their regular season following four straight losses over two series against No. 6 Ohio State University and No. 7 University of Minnesota. They were outscored 21-5 over the four-game stretch and find themselves in a familiar position for Badger teams this season, in need of a Big Ten Tournament win to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
One of the biggest ancillary storylines for Wisconsin this season was Coach Tony Granato’s temporary absence to coach Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The U.S. Men’s team was knocked out of the tournament last week by the Czech Republic. Granato is back in Madison and will return to the bench this Friday.
With the post-season in flux for the moment, let’s take a look back on the regular season for the Badgers.
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Early season success
The Cardinal and White came out of the gate hot in the 2017-2018 season. They won four of their first five games. This included upsets against top-ranked programs Boston College (No. 13 at the time, now No. 18) and Ohio State, with whom they split the series.
This resulted in a season-high No.5 ranking in the October 23 USCHO Division I Poll.
Big Ten mediocrity
Once the conference season was fully underway in November, the Badgers managed to keep their heads above water for the first few games. They split series with the University of Michigan and Michigan State, as well as a set against Minnesota, but then began to falter.
In early December, UW lost five straight matchups (one in overtime) by an average goal differential of 2.2.
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In conference matchups, Wisconsin only won both games of a series once — against Penn State University. On the other hand, the Badgers were swept four times at the hands of Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Notre Dame.
Sophomore forward Trent Frederic led the way in the goal-scoring department for the Badgers this season. He poured in 15 goals and had a team-best .152 shot percentage (among players with more than five goals). Frederic was also fourth on the team in assists with 13, and his 28 points were good enough for second best on the roster.
Frederic’s linemate, forward Ryan Wagner, topped the Badgers in points with 29 on the season. Wagner had eight games with multiple points, including a three-point outing against St. Lawrence back in October.
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The chief facilitator for the Badgers was defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk. Kalynuk dished out 20 assists to lead the team. He also got in front of 55 potential goals, he was second in blocked shots.
UW will take on Michigan this weekend in Ann Arbor for a best-of-three series in the first round of the Big Ten Playoffs.