The Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish met in an almost empty Compton Family Ice Arena for a weekend series to kick off the Big 10 and NCAA D1 hockey seasons. This series marked the third time the Badgers won its first two road games under head coach Tony Granato. The last time the badgers won the first two regular season games with both being on the road was at the start of the 1997 season against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves.
The Friday game was a decisive win for Wisconsin with goaltender Robbie Beydoun earning a shutout in the 2-0 win for the Badgers. In what was Beydoun’s second time in the net in almost a year, his presence was able to provide Wisconsin with protection that Notre Dame was not able to replicate. Wisconsin’s entire goaltending corps is new to the team this season, with starting goaltender Beydoun being a graduate transfer from Michigan Tech. As the most experienced net minder on the team, the Badgers are looking to Beydoun to provide consistent goaltending while the program’s freshmen gain experience.
“I knew coming in there were going to be some things that you can’t really emulate in practice that are going to be something to adjust to, like traffic and pucks thrown on net where you can’t really see,” Beydoun said. “Once I settled in and saw the puck through traffic, that was definitely the biggest thing for me.”
The first goal of the college hockey season went to Wisconsin’s Linus Weissbach early in the first period. The energy on the Wisconsin team was palpable, coming off of their 250-day offseason with an ambition that would make you think it was the conference finals. The first period was full of checks, passes and shots on goal against starting Notre Dame goaltender Dylan St. Cyr.
A 5-3 victory against the Fighting Irish on Saturday rounded out Wisconsin’s series sweep. In what looked like a hopeful game for Notre Dame, forward Colin Theisen earned a hat trick over the course of the game, tying the score twice against the Badgers. The issue that Notre Dame faced over the course of the entire series was a total collapse in goaltending. St. Cyr, who up until this year had been redshirting or acting as a backup for the team, let in five goals between the two games before he was benched. Sophomore Ryan Bischel, who replaced St. Cyr in the net, also let in two goals from the impressive Wisconsin offense.
This was a very exciting way to open the college hockey season, and after some 250 days without it, I am glad to see it back in any form. Hockey East returns this Friday with exciting matchups between UConn and Vermont, Maine and UMass Amherst and Boston College and New Hampshire.