The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. U.S Under- 18 Team
Dates: Friday, Dec. 12, 7PM CT
Location: Kohl Center
Ice Surface: 200’ X 97’
Radio: Friday - WIBA AM 1310
Video Stream: BTN Plus ($)
Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)
All-Time Series: UW leads 4-0-0
Last Meeting: Wisconsin won 5-0
About U.S. Under- 18 Team
Head Coach: Don Granto
Notable: The U.S. Under- 18 Team comes to Madison Wisconsin for the fifth time in recorded history. The youngsters have never been able to get it done against the Badgers but this year the under 18 team is not that outmatched in terms of age.
Badger fans will also get their first first look at two future Badgers that skate for the U.S
Luke Opilka, the best goalie on the team is set to be a Badger in the near future. The net minder has had a phenomenal season thus far allowing fewer than three goals a game.
Wisconsin recruit, Luke Kunin, who has tallied 10 goals and 9 assists this season, will also be at the Kohl Center playing for the U.S.
“Luke Kunin is one of these players, as he gets the puck, people will come to the edge of their seats.” UW coach Mike Eave’s said.
“He has good skill and sees the ice and he’s one of their captains. He brings that leadership quality”
This is also an Under 18 team that took the University of Minnesota to overtime and won 5-4. They are not scared of big college programs, an
Points: Austin Matthews (47)
Goals: Austin Matthews (22)
Assists: Jeremy Bracco (33)
Save Pct.: Luke Opilka (.89)
Goals Against Average: Luke Opilka (2.69)
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (13th Season – 256-188-54)
Notable: Wisconsin hits the ice for the first time after being swept by Penn State. Since then, the Badgers have also lost defensemen Keegen Ford, who left the team just this past week.
Ford’s departure will be seen, as the Badgers will try to find some rhythm on defense before the semester break.
On the offensive side of the puck, Wisconsin is slowly but surely having more and more players produce. Redshirt Sophomore Morgan Zulinick paired with Grant Besse on the first line has been proven to be effective, as both players have started getting more shots on the net.
The dynamic duo are tied among the team leader in goals.
Points: Grant Besse (7)
Goals: Grant Besse and Morgan Zulinick (3)
Assists: 3 tied at 4
Save Pct.: Landon Peterson (.900)
Goals Against Average: Landon Peterson (3.03 GAA)
This exhibition will prove to be a great test for both teams.
This may be the first game of the season the Badgers are actually favored to win. They have the bigger and stronger players the under- 18 team, but could lack the team chemistry.
That is one of the main things lacking for this Badger squad. They just had a teammate quit on them and they have lost more games than anyone would want to. Morale cannot be high.
Wisconsin Defensemen, Jack Dougherty, who played for the national team just a year ago was asked about how it felt playing college hockey teams as a 17 year old.
“It’s great just knowing that a team with, possibly, 23- and 24-year-olds, just lost to a team of 17-year-olds,”
The U.S Under- 18 team has nothing to lose in this game, and despite it being an exhibition, the Badgers are playing in front of their home crowd and do not want to be upset by a bunch of kids.
That added pressure of being expected to win a hockey game that doesn’t really matter paired with playing a team who will treat this exhibition like a playoff game should be cause for concern for Badger fans everywhere.
Although, I would say the Badgers are favorites, this U.S team is not a joke. These are essentially the best the U.S has to offer that aren’t playing in Canada or college. There is a lot of talent on this U.S roster and they are a dangerously fast team.
They are also riding a hot streak, winning 11 of their last 12 games.
Wisconsin: 3, U.S Under-18 Team: 5
I can see Wisconsin not coming to the ice 100% mentally there this week after having a member quit, and this just being an exhibition game. Looking at the opponents the U.S team has played and beaten, things do not look too good for Wisconsin, and the U.S team pulls off the upset.