The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team will face off against two Hockey East conference teams in their regular season-opening weekend, playing against Boston College Friday and Merrimack College Saturday.
This fresh Badger team has already had a few opportunities to build chemistry, as they beat British Columbia twice in exhibition games by scores of 3–0 and 7–5.
Their young talent has already seemed to find their rhythm, freshmen Alex Turcotte, Cole Caufield, Owen Lindmark and Dylan Holloway all put points on the board. Head Coach Tony Granato and the Badgers hope this hot start will carry over to the regular season.
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The Golden Eagles already started their regular season in full, defeating the University of New Brunswick by a score of 4–2.
Wisconsin swept Boston College at home in their two-game series last season by scores of 3–0 and 7–5. The Golden Eagles had a losing record last season, yet they flew to the Hockey East Championship as the seventh seed where they were eliminated by third-seeded Northeastern. Wisconsin and BC had disappointing outcomes to their seasons but are both hungry for a bounce-back year.
Likewise, both squads are bringing in new talent, as Boston College’s group of freshmen features five draft picks from this year’s NHL Draft.
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Forwards Matthew Boldy (12th overall) and Alex Newhook (16th overall), defensemen Drew Helleson (47th overall) and Marshall Warren (166th overall) and goalie Spencer Knight (13th overall) all joined the Golden Eagles this season.
This matchup featuring two offensive juggernauts should shape up to be an exciting and fast-paced game, which is why the Badgers will need their defense and goalkeeping to step up. Defensemen K’Andre Miller and Wisconsin captain Wyatt Kalynuk should have their hands full Friday.
The Badgers will head to North Andover to play Merrimack College on Saturday, another team looking to rebound after a last-place finish in the Hockey East this past season. The Warriors have not gotten off to a great start thus far, as they were swept in a two-game series on the road against Lake Superior State.
The Warriors were led by forward Chase Gresock last season. Gresock put up a team-high 24 points in 34 games as a freshman and already has two goals in two games this season.
Merrimack College has improved its top nine forward group, but their issues are still prevalent on both ends of the ice, as they scored just two goals per game and allowed 3.9 goals per game, both statistics being among the worst in their conference.
Furthermore, they held a measly 12% average on the power play, whereas their opponents averaged a whopping 26% average against them.
These issues for Merrimack College should benefit the Badgers well, as Wisconsin’s potent and high-motor offense may feed off of their back end.
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Wisconsin has an excellent opportunity to begin this year of high expectations with a strong start and will seek to come home with two wins.
Game time is at 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game can be viewed on NESN+ and listened to live on 1310WIBA. Saturday’s game can be listened to live on 1070 WTSO. Both games can be followed live on Twitter @BadgerMHockey.
The Badgers will play at the Kohl Center for the first time next weekend, Oct. 18-19, against two-time reigning NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth.