Wisconsin preps for a busy weekend
Hockey fans in Madison may want to make a list of things to do this weekend because there’s quite a bit going on.On Thursday, there will be a memorial, or more accurately celebration of life, for former Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer at the Kohl Center beginning at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the Badgers will celebrate senior night and honor the 40th anniversary of their 1977 NCAA championship team. Capping things off on Sunday will be a skate with the Badgers event.Oh, and Wisconsin also has two games against the aforementioned Buckeyes with a chance to jump Minnesota and claim the Big Ten regular season crown.”This weekend, for us, is set up as well as we could have hoped from the beginning of the season,” Wisconsin coach Tony Granato said at the Badgers’ Monday news conference. “We’re in control of where we can be moving forward. It’s a big weekend for us as a program. We’ve worked really hard to get here.”Granato said that the whole team will partake in all the events this weekend, but he doesn’t expect it to have any effect on the games. In fact, he hoped that all the events would bring large crowds and a big home-ice advantage.”There’s a lot of excitement and buzz this weekend for a lot of different reasons,” Granato said. “I would really hope we get a ton of fans at these two games this weekend to kind of celebrate how this year has gone.”Granato concluded the conference by reflecting on Sauer’s influence on himself and everyone that had a chance to cross paths with the former coach. Sauer reached out to Granato shortly before he passed to congratulate him about the direction the program was heading.”The thought of him reaching out to me was something that meant a lot to me,” he said. “His impact on our program, and I’m trying to think of this in a bigger picture, I know what he meant to me individually, but I talked to quite a few teammates that played for Coach [Sauer] in the last few days as we get closer to the celebration and the stories, and the smiles, and the laughs, and the understanding of what he meant to us as a person is what will stay with us forever.”He was a phenomenal person to play for,” Granato added. “He had your back 24 hours a day, no matter what, and when you’re a kid and you come into this thing you make mistakes and never once did look at you and say ‘you can’t do that, what are you doing?’ He’d back you up and I can tell you that everybody that’s played for him would say the same thing.”Granato said that his goal was to emulate the culture that surrounded Wisconsin’s hockey program when Sauer was the coach.”Anything that he’s ever told me or said to me will always be remembered.”
Three stars of the week
First star — Ohio State sophomore forward Mason Jobst: Jobst had two goals and three assists last weekend as the Buckeyes split with Michigan State. He had a short-handed goal and two assists in Friday’s loss and a power-play goal and primary assist on the game-winning goal in Saturday’s victory. The five points puts his season total at 47, which is the most for an Ohio State player since R.J. Umberger had 53 points in 2002-03. This is his third career Big Ten weekly award.Second star — Minnesota sophomore forward Tyler Sheehy: Sheehy had four points for the Gophers last weekend. He had an assist on Friday and two goals and another helper on Saturday. This is his sixth career Big Ten weekly award.Third star — Penn State senior forward David Goodwin: Goodwin had two goals and two assists in Penn State’s 6-0 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday. This is his fifth career weekly award.
B1G in the poll
No. 5 Minnesota, No. 11 Penn State, No. 15 Ohio State and No. 16 Wisconsin represent the Big Ten in this week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll.
1. Denver2. Harvard3. Minnesota Duluth4. UMass Lowell5. Minnesota6. Union7. Boston University8. Western Michigan9. Cornell10. Providence11. Penn State12. Notre Dame13. Vermont14. Ohio State15. North Dakota16. Wisconsin17. Boston College18. Air Force19. Canisius20. St. Lawrence
This week’s matchups
Penn State at Michigan (Friday and Saturday, Yost Ice Arena)Michigan State at Minnesota (Friday and Saturday, Mariucci Arena)Ohio State at Wisconsin (Friday and Saturday, Kohl Center)