ST PAUL, MN – MARCH 21: The helmets for the Wisconsin Badgers sit on the bench before the semifinal game of the Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Championship between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Penn State Nittany Lions on March 21, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers Hockey: Preview for the 2022-23 Season

Wisconsin Hockey is just around the corner.  The air is getting colder, and with it, comes a fresh start to the hockey season.  The Badgers should be happy starting from scratch, as last season did not turn out very well.  Wisconsin finished tied for fifth in the Big Ten with Penn State, and only better than one team, Michigan State.  This accumulated to a 10-24-3 overall record, with a conference record of 6-17-1.  A big reason for this is the goal scoring and goals allowed.  The Badgers allowed 96 goals, the most in the Big Ten, while only scoring 53 goals, second fewest in the Big Ten.  Not good.

Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up for the 2022-23 season:


Key Departures

  • Tyler Inamoto, D
  • Max Johnson, F
  • Roman Ahcan, F
  • Jesper Peltonen, D
  • Tarek Baker, F
  • Jake Martin, D
  • Josh Ess, D
  • Ryder Donovan, F
  • Cameron Rowe, G

Key Additions

  • Jack Horbach, F, Freshman
  • Robby Newton, F, Freshman
  • Ben Dexheimer, D, Freshman
  • Tyson Jugnauth, D, Freshman
  • Charlie Stramel, F, Freshman
  • Ty Smilanic, F, Junior
  • Kyle McClellan, G, Junior
  • Cruz Lucius, F, Freshman

Returning Players

  • Daniel Laatsch, D, Sophomore
  • Sam Stange, F, Junior
  • Corson Ceulemans, D, Sophomore
  • Shay Donovan, D, Senior
  • Zach Urdahl, F, Sophomore
  • Mike Vorlicky, D, Senior
  • Brayden Morrison, F Sophomore
  • Jack Gorniak, F, Graduate Student
  • Mathieu De St. Phalle, F, Junior
  • Owen Lindmark, F, Senior
  • Brock Caufield, F, Graduate Student
  • Carson Bantle, F, Junior
  • Caden Brown, F, Sophomore
  • Liam Malmquist, F, Sophomore
  • Anthony Kehrer, D, Junior
  • Dominick Mersch, F, Graduate Student
  • Luke Lamaster, D, Junior
  • Ben Garrity, G, Junior
  • Jared Moe, G, Senior

Departing Coaches

  • Mark Strobel, Associate Head Coach

Coaching Additions

  • Andy Brandt, Assistant Coach

Returning Coaches

  • Tony Granato, Head Coach
  • Mark Osiecki, Associate Head Coach
  • Brad Winchester, Volunteer Assistant Coach
  • Paul Valukas, Strength & Conditioning
  • Andy Hrodey, Athletic Trainer
  • Nate LaPoint, Equipment Manager
  • Shane Connelly, Director of Hockey Operations
  • Paul Capobianco, Brand Communications
  • Zach Addamo, Video Coordinator / Assistant Director of Hockey Operations

Player Highlights

For the leaving players, there is a little offensive firepower that are departing.  Roman Ahcan had the seventh most points last season for the team, and Tarek Baker was fourth in the same statistic.  However, all players were in the negative for +/-, so there is plenty of room for improvement.

Additions to the team are where the excitement begins.  Defenseman Tyson Jugnauth of Toronto, Ontario joins the Badgers defense after a stellar season with the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL.  Jugnauth scored nine goals and assisted 41 times over a 52-game stretch, almost averaging a point per game.  He was also selected 100 overall in the 2022 NHL draft by the Seattle Kraken.  Not too shabby.

Another fourth-round draft selection in the 2022 NHL draft, drafted 124 overall by the Carolina Hurricanes, is Cruz Lucius.  Lucious joins Wisconsin Hockey as a forward from Lawrence, Kansas.  He buried 16 goals and assisted 17 times last season in 39 games across all competitions.  Again, almost a point per game.

However, the biggest prize has to be Charlie Stramel.  Stramel is a forward that comes from Rosemount, MN and is first draft eligible in the 2023 draft.  He’s currently projected to be a first-round selection and reaches as high as eight overall on some draft boards. The 6-foot-3, 216-pound forward netted 19 goals and assisted 25 times in 51 games across all competitions.

Wisconsin Hockey welcomes a few transfers this season as well.  Ty Smilanic comes over from Quinnipiac, where he scored 23 points in 41 games last year.  Kyle McClellan comes over from Mercyhurst, where he recorded a .932 save percentage.


Veterans and Coaching

On the bench, there was one coach departing and one addition.  Coach Andy Brandt joins the staff as an Assistant Coach.  Brandt comes from St. Norbert College, where he spent the last 5 years on the Green Knights’ bench.  The Wisconsin native helped lead the Green Knights to the 2018 NCAA Division III Championship.

On the flip side, Wisconsin Hockey saw Mark Strobel leave the program.  After 5 years with the program, Strobel resigned with two more years left on his contract.

The returning players should serve as a massive boost for a team looking to bounce back after an abysmal 2021-22 campaign.  There are three players about to kick-off their fifth year with the Badgers Hockey program.  There are players on this team with NHL draft capital.  The goaltending is handled by Jared Moe, who is returning after allowing 2.87 goals against average.  Head Coach Tony Granato is back for his sixth season.  Couple all this with the stellar freshman class and transfers, Wisconsin Hockey should be ready to rebound.


Expectations

Wisconsin Hockey has a tall task ahead of them.  Last year was terrible.  This is a team that had won the Big Ten regular season championship just two years ago.  The fall from that to the season last year was huge.

Coaching and scoring points are going to be the biggest reasons for a Badgers bounce back.  More pucks need to find the twine, and the coaches need to get this team playing sound hockey.  With the minimal changes to the roster and coaching staff, I believe this is doable.

For this team, I don’t think an expectation of a Big Ten championship is reasonable.  However, improvement is the goal here, and it can be done.  Realistically, if the freshman can come in and produce, I don’t see why this team can’t get back to above .500 for the season, and push for the third or fourth spot in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin Hockey drops the season opening puck against Ohio State on Friday, October 7.


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