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Tony Granato isn't with the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team this week, but one of the head coach's deputies doesn't think there will be any drop off.

Associate head coaches Mark Osiecki and Mark Strobel are running the Badgers leading up to and through a series at Michigan State on Friday and Saturday, while Granato is leading a U.S. team in Germany.

Granato left Madison on Sunday and is scheduled to return from the Deutschland Cup on Nov. 13. USA Hockey is using the event to evaluate players for the Olympic team, which Granato also will coach in February.

Before he left, Granato expressed confidence in his associates being able to handle his absence as if nothing was different. Osiecki spoke along the same lines on Monday.

"I wouldn't think there's going to be any change at all," he said. "It's been a consistent message from us as a staff."

Granato often delegates responsibilities for running practice to Osiecki and Strobel, so the lead-up to the Badgers' first Big Ten Conference road series of the season shouldn't be terribly out of the ordinary for UW players.

Osiecki declined to elaborate on specific behind-the-bench duties during games, but he typically coordinates the defensemen. That could leave Strobel to direct forwards.

Director of hockey operations Shane Connelly, a former Badgers goalie, is slated to be on the bench to support Osiecki and Strobel, Granato said last week.

"Mark's got the defense. The other Mark can handle the offense," Granato said. "We're good."

There's a lot familiar about running a bench for Osiecki, who was a head coach at Ohio State from 2010 to 2013 and for seven seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League.

"It's a different challenge because there's so many different things to balance," Osiecki said. "You have to manage your time the right way. I think you have to manage your emotions the right way. It's always fun to be able to do that again."


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