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Wyatt Kalynuk

UW freshman defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk and Michigan Tech sophomore forward Gavin Gould vie for position during the Oct. 1 season opener at the Kohl Center. 

Some extra notes as the 12th-ranked University of Wisconsin men's hockey team and No. 19 Ohio State prepare for the Friday's opener of the Big Ten Conference season (7 p.m., FSW, 1310 AM):

1. A blueprint for playing UW?

Badgers coach Tony Granato complimented Michigan Tech on the hard-nosed, physical way it played in a 3-2 UW victory last Sunday at the Kohl Center.

That's something that the Badgers, who like to play an up-tempo game, probably should get used to seeing.

"I think that being a team now that's respected more from college hockey ranks, you have to understand that that's part of it," Granato said on Monday. "I think last year when we played (Boston College) and we played teams that were ranked ahead of us, we used that as a measuring stick and something that we used as an inspiration to say, 'OK, let's see where we are against the big boys.' I think we're one of the big boys now. One of their coaches told me (Sunday) night that they prepared for this game like it was a Stanley Cup game.

"I think we're going to get a lot of that. That's good. I think that was a great game for us to start the season."

Ohio State doesn't have some of the faces that tormented the Badgers last season from a physical standpoint (see: Healey, Josh), so we'll see how that changes things this weekend.

2. Trading places

Things are usually pretty familiar between coaching staffs in college hockey, but maybe not to the degree that we'll see this weekend.

The Badgers' associate head coaches are familiar with the Buckeyes. Mark Strobel was in the same position with Ohio State for the last two seasons, and Mark Osiecki coached the Buckeyes from 2010 to 2013.

On the Ohio State side, assistant coach JB Bittner was with UW in the 2015-16 season, while associate head coach Steve Miller is a Sun Prairie native. Head coach Steve Rohlik was Osiecki's associate head coach with the Buckeyes and his teammate on the 1990 UW national championship team.

"You always get excited when you're playing your former team, in different ways," Granato said. "But from a coaching perspective, both Marks on our side are telling me a lot about their team already, maybe stuff that I wouldn't normally know. I'm sure they're getting the same with JB on their side of things.

"I don't think it changes how the game is going to be played. You try to take as much of the emotion and personal thing out of it, especially when you're coaching. We can't get on the ice and play for them, so you try to stay as focused as you would on a normal game. But it's exciting for everybody that's going to be behind the benches this weekend, for a lot of reasons."

3. Ryan Wagner previews the series

Here's Badgers senior winger Ryan Wagner, talking on Thursday about the start of the season, the series against Ohio State and his perfect saucer pass to Linus Weissbach for a goal last Sunday:

4. Lining up

UW has tried out some different forward line combinations in practice this week, but it appears two of the groupings that went out against Michigan Tech will be unchanged for Friday's game.

Trent Frederic was centering Wagner and Weissbach in Thursday's practice, and Cameron Hughes was between Matt Ustaski and Sean Dhooghe.

Granato said he's expecting to change some of the personnel in the lineup this weekend. The other three forward lines on Thursday had Seamus Malone centering Jason Ford and Will Johnson; Tarek Baker centering Max Zimmer and Matthew Freytag; and Jarod Zirbel as the pivot between Jason Dhooghe and Dan Labosky.

The defensive pairs were unchanged, with JD Greenway still out of the lineup because of what Granato called personal reasons. Those combos were Josh Ess and Peter Tischke, Wyatt Kalynuk with Jake Linhart, and Tim Davison with Tyler Inamoto. Cullen Hurley, Patrick Sexton and Jake Bunz rotated through the fourth pairing.

5. An early read on Kyle Hayton

Because practices were closed to the media until last Saturday, I hadn't been able to get a great look at Badgers graduate transfer Kyle Hayton on the ice, beyond what was available from his St. Lawrence career online. What I heard from people who've been around him was that he was an incredible competitor, even in practice situations.

From seeing him for a few days now, that's an accurate assessment. One of the things I remember about former Badgers goalie Brian Elliott's practice habits is that he didn't give up on any puck, even in those no-stress situations when a save didn't really matter. Hayton appears to be from that same school of thought.

"He's very confident," Granato said on Monday before referencing Michigan Tech's second goal from the day before, when Hayton was a little out of position.

"It didn't bother him. His demeanor going into the third period was, they can get as many shots as they want, they're not scoring. And I love that in a goaltender. (Jack) Berry's a lot like that as well. What it does is it calms your team down when you've got a goaltender back there that has that confidence."

6. A sense of the expectations

The Badgers were 12th in the preseason poll and picked for third in the Big Ten Conference, so the popular sentiment is that they'll make their first NCAA tournament appearance in four seasons in March.

Nate Ewell and Brad Schlossman, who produce the excellent weekly podcast College Hockey Today, think UW will go in as high seeds.

Ewell, the deputy executive director of College Hockey Inc. and a longtime follower of the game, predicted the Badgers to be a No. 1 seed in the bracket and to win the Big Ten.

He said Hayton has the potential to be the best goaltender in the five seasons of Big Ten hockey.

"He is everything you hear about and more," Ewell said.

Schlossman, who covers college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald and is the best beat writer in our game, has the Badgers as a No. 2 seed.

"Without Hayton, I think you still pencil this team in as an NCAA tournament team," he said. "Getting Hayton is a game-changer."

You can hear that preseason bracketology episode here. While you're there, subscribe to the podcast; it's a great weekly listen.

7. Adam Burish on Las Vegas

Watch this from former Badgers captain Adam Burish — now a broadcaster for the Chicago Blackhawks and for some UW games, including Friday's — on his connection to last Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas:


We've had our content from the Badgers hockey special section of last Sunday rolling out to the web all week. If you missed them, check out stories on Frederic, Hayton, Linhart and Tischke, Greenway, Matt Ustaski, Jason and Sean Dhooghe, a column by Tom Oates on Granato's balance between UW and the Olympics, and player bios.

The Daily Cardinal had a preview section this week with a story by Ethan Levy about constructing the lineup.

Our Friday story was on Weissbach's transition to college, which has been smooth so far despite his arrival later than the other freshmen.

UW and Notre Dame are working on playing a game this season at Chicago's United Center, with potential for more there in the future.

Andy Baggot had a great note on Frederic in his weekend wrapup: In his 31-game UW career, he has more games with two or more points (11) than games without a point (10).

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Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.