Last season, the NCAA men’s and women’s hockey seasons were both cut short in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (19-8-1, 17-6-1-1 Big Ten) team was relatively unaffected by these cancellations because they had already been eliminated from the Big Ten Hockey Tournament by the Ohio State Buckeyes prior to the event being abruptly called off.
Conversely, the women’s team (14-3-1, 12-3-1-0-1 WCHA) cruised to a conference regular season title in 2020, but missed out on an opportunity to capture their fifth national title, with the NCAA tournament being canceled.
This season, both teams are ranked in the top five of their respective national polls and have already won conference championships. The only thing that looks to be able to stop them are game cancellations, which have affected both team’s schedules already.
The men’s team clinched the Big Ten regular season title following a sweep of Michigan State (15-22, 5-16-1) in the team’s final series of the regular season. The Badgers trailed Minnesota in the conference standings going into the weekend but passed the Golden Gophers, leaving East Lansing as the top seed.
The women’s team clinched the Julianne Bye Cup as WCHA regular season champions on Feb. 27 with a win over second-place Minnesota Duluth (11-6, 11-5). Just over a week later, they completed the duo of conference championships by defeating Ohio State in the WCHA Final Face Off championship game, capturing their first conference tournament title since 2019.
This victory also guaranteed the team’s entry into the 2021 NCAA Tournament, in which they have earned the No. 2 overall seed. With very successful seasons so far for each team, let’s take a look at the road ahead.
The Wisconsin men’s hockey team wrapped up an impressive turnaround season in the Big Ten, winning their first regular season title since 2000. In that span of 21 years, the program has accomplished many other things — including a national championship — but this accomplishment re-establishes the Badgers as a contender in the Big Ten.
Going forward, the team will have a very important first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which will begin on Sunday, March 14. After having Sunday off, Wisconsin will face the winner of the Penn State vs. Notre Dame game at 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Essentially, with a Fighting Irish win, the game could be a road game for the Badgers as the tournament is being hosted by Notre Dame at Compton Family Ice Arena.
The bracket shapes up nicely for the Badgers as they have found success against both the Nittany Lions and the Fighting Irish so far this season. Wisconsin played Penn State four times, with three wins and outsourcing the Nittany Lions by a 21-12 margin. The Badgers also were unbeaten in the four matchups against Notre Dame with three wins and a tie.
The expectations will be high for Wisconsin as the top seed, but the Badgers have proven their resilience and toughness all season.
Looking ahead, Wisconsin is in a tremendous position to qualify for their first NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. A conference tournament championship will guarantee a spot for the Badgers, but their body of work so far this season will give them a good shot at a tournament berth without a conference tournament title.
Women’s Hockey: Badgers face familiar opponent in WCHA Final FaceoffAfter a 16-game regular season full of dominance and COVID-19 cancellations, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team (12-3-1-0) has Read…
The Wisconsin women’s hockey team has continued their sustained dominance this season. Even with the departure of Abby Roque, the 2020 WCHA Player of the Year, the Badgers have stayed atop the women’s college hockey world. Heading into the NCAA Tournament as the second overall seed, they will look to defend their 2019 title after last year’s tournament was canceled.
Wisconsin takes on Providence College in the first round of the tournament at Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, PA. If the Badgers beat the Friars, they will advance to the semifinals against the winner of the Ohio State and Boston College match.
Providence’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance came in the 2004-2005 season when they lost to Minnesota in the first round. On the other hand, Mark Johnson’s squad has not missed the tournament since the 2012-2013 season. Wisconsin has also made six consecutive Frozen Four appearances.
Wisconsin will still have the opportunity to play a couple well-known conference rivals with Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth making an eight team field. Johnson and the Badgers will look to capture his sixth national championship in 18 seasons in Madison.