Season 3 Episode 3 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; “Off to Wisconsin”. This week, Tim Braun, Rob Gilreath, and Dustin Lindstrom were joined by Todd Milewski, who covers the Wisconsin Badgers (and Forward Madison) for the Wisconsin State Journal. With Todd, the guys discussed topics including Wisconsin’s exhibition game, the expectations for Wisconsin this season, and the upcoming series between Michigan Tech and Wisconsin. After the conversation with Todd wraps up, the guys discussed their expectations for the 2021-2022 season for Tech.
Wisconsin’s exhibition game
Todd started off talking about the Badgers exhibition game this past weekend, which was played in Chippewa Falls, WI. He said that it was an adventure all around: the weather cooperated, there was a tailgate set up prior to the game, there was a good atmosphere during the game and the arena was full. Todd also talked about the fans in Wisconsin wanting to see hockey in different parts of the state, but it’s challenging sometimes due to the Badgers being the only Division 1 team in Wisconsin. However, he was sure to mention that Division III hockey is still strong in the state.
Todd also talked about the game itself and some points of interest. One of his biggest talking points was that this is a different Wisconsin team from last year. The Badgers lost a lot of high-end offensive talent and he suspects that this year’s team will be more like Badger teams of 5-10 years ago that are more defensive minded. Another big concern Todd talked about is the health of former Husky Carson Bantle, who went crashing into the boards during the game and left with his arm in a sling. Todd wasn’t sure what the extent of the injury was at the time of recording, but was expecting that he’d learn more throughout the week.
Expectations for Wisconsin
The Badgers were picked to finish 3rd in the Big 10 by the media behind Michigan and Minnesota. Todd thought that this placement pick was largely based on the benefit of the doubt from last year and that he expects to see a team that may take awhile to figure out where the scoring is coming from. He thought that the defense should be solid, as a number of starters from last year are returning. Some guys who didn’t do as well last year could be better this year because they will have new opportunities available to them. Todd also thought that the goalie rotation will end up similar to last season. In the end, he was optimistic about a 3rd place finish for the Badgers.
The future of the Huskies vs Bucky
The guys then looked at the series between Tech and the Badgers through their gold-tinted Tech glasses. Rob and Tim both like the closeness of the game to them and are planning on being in attendance. It was discussed that there are future plans in development between the two teams, but that it is unsure if those games would be in Houghton or in Green Bay. Rob thought that getting the Big 10 schools back to Houghton is a big deal. There were ideas floated about moving the GLI to Green Bay and having Tech and the Badgers host, but scheduling would be difficult without knowing the Packers schedule multiple years in advance.
Michigan Tech vs Wisconsin Badgers upcoming weekend series
According to Todd, the games this weekend will be broadcast on BTN+ and Bally Sports Wisconsin. Todd discussed that masks are required at the Kohl Center unless fans are eating or drinking. He also mentioned that fans can expect to have to wear a mask indoor at most places in the Madison area. This weekend’s games will be the first live hockey games for Rob since Tech defeated Northern in the conference playoffs in March of 2020. Tim was not sure how long it had been since his last game. Everyone talked about how they were hoping for good games both nights.
Tony Granato says Carson Bantle is out for a few weeks because of the shoulder injury he suffered Sunday. Mike Vorlicky is week to week with a lower-body injury and will miss this week's series against Michigan Tech.— Todd Milewski (@ToddMilewski) October 5, 2021
When asked about what he thought would happen this week, Todd thought that Tech would have the better chance during the first game due to the Badgers still being in flux and finding their identity, while Tech has more guys returning from last season. His final prediction was that Tech would win on Friday and the Badgers would bounce back and take the game on Saturday. Tim agreed with this.
Fantasy college hockey challenge
Dustin started off the segment this week by reviewing the results from Week 1, which were not favorable to him. For Week 2, the theme for the challenge was “CCHA versus the World”. Each of the players this week was a forward on a CCHA team who is playing a non-conference series on Friday and Saturday. These players hailed from Bowling Green, Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, Bemidji, and Lake Superior State. With Matt Cavender out this week, Todd stepped up and picked in his place.
2021-2022 season expectations for Michigan Tech
Once Todd departed, the bulk of the discussion this week revolved around the expectations for the Michigan Tech Huskies during the 2021-2022 hockey season. There were three main expectations echoed between Tim, Rob, and Dustin: be a top 3 team in the CCHA, play on home ice during the CCHA playoffs, and get an at large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Dustin talked about this being the year Tech should be competing on the national stage with as many 3rd and 4th year players as Tech has on the roster. Dustin also talked about the importance of not having a weekend off when playing teams like Bemidji. Rob tied the discussion back to earlier in the podcast and talked about how this weekend will be very telling for how the season will play out. Rob also mentioned wanting to see a sweep this weekend to set up the discussion about Tech belonging on the national stage. Tim talked about Tech’s weaknesses last year and thought that some of the transfer players who were brought in will help to shore up those weaknesses. In addition to shoring up the weaknesses, Tim discussed that the new additions should make Tech a 4-line deep hockey team and that teams won’t be able to take a shift off without being punished. Ultimately Tim stated that he didn’t think that Tech would win the MacNaughton Cup, but that he wants them to have a mathematical chance to win it going into winter carnival.
The season conversation wrapped up with a brief discussion about who would dress this week, and who the guys are excited to see play. Dustin said there are six “for sure” guys who will dress. Rob said he is excited to see Tristan Ashbrook play a full year. Tim said he is excited to see the Ashbrook/ Tyrone Bronte pairing, as well as the line consisting of Alec Broetzman, Arvid Caderoth, and Marcus Pederson.
Cut for time
Each week, those that support us on Patreon are entitled to receive additional content from the Chasing MacNaughton crew. The longest segment this week was a soccer discussion between Tim and Todd. There was also more discussion about hockey schools within the State of Wisconsin and Tim talked more about the difficulties of scheduling. The guys discussed College Hockey Stats being non-existent and the problems it caused with finding stats for games. Todd discussed the holiday tournament that Wisconsin is taking a part of, and Rob showed his true Yooper colors. Tim and Dustin discussed how many times they’ve been to the Bradley Center and watching the Brewers play baseball. There was also more of an in-depth conversation from the fantasy college hockey segment.
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