The wait is finally over. The season is upon us. This Sunday, the Badgers take the ice against Michigan Tech in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game. After missing out on the NCAA tournament by the smallest of margins, a double overtime loss in the Big Ten championship to Penn State, the team is eager to get going this season.
“We feel good about ourselves,” said head coach Tony Granato after practice last week. “We get a chance to start on Sunday and we feel we had a really good month of training to get ready for it.”
While this team lost a lot of talent at the end of last year, but have restocked in a way this team hadn’t seen in recent years. Of the seven incoming freshman, four were selected in the NHL draft this past June. Lead by defenseman Tyler Inamoto, who was taken in the 5th round, 133rd overall by the Florida Panthers. He is joined by fellow freshman defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk and Josh Ess. With these additions to go along with Sophomore J.D. Greenway, Junior Peter Tischke, Senior Jake Linhart, the back end for the Badgers should be a definite strength this year.
Helping out these defensemen will be graduate transfer goalie Kyle Hayton from St. Lawrence University. “Everything’s going well
Offensively, Senior captain Cameron Hughes leads a group of young, talented forwards. Of those young, talented forwards, look no further than Trent Frederic. The Sophomore finished with 33 points last season in 30 games. Good for second on the team, and one point ahead of fellow Boston Bruin draft pick in Hughes. At 6″3′, Frederic brings a physical dominance to the front of the net that can be extremely difficult to defend. Couple that with his talent and Frederic could be a dangerous scorer this year.
“I’m just gonna try an play my best every weekend, just give my all ,” said Frederic on his expectations. “We’ve got a lot of good players so we’ll see.”
The Big Ten is quickly emerging as a powerhouse conference in college hockey. With the addition of Notre Dame to the conference, along with the storied histories of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to go along with a new program in Penn State, the conference is in great shape.
“It’s outstanding,” said Granato of Notre Dame’s addition to the Big Ten. “Last year they could have easily won a national championship. They’re an elite program so it’s great to have another one of them in our conference. I think it makes us stronger.”
This year is sure to be a test for the Badgers, but it appears as if they are more than up for the challenge.