Badgers men’s hockey: Wisconsin, Notre Dame announce plans for games at United Center

November 14, 2017

A deal is in place for the University of Wisconsin and Notre Dame to play a men’s hockey game at the United Center in Chicago in the next two seasons.

As the Wisconsin State Journal reported in October, the schools planned to move the second game of this season’s Notre Dame home series to the home of the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, Jan. 21. That was officially announced Monday, and the 2 p.m. game will be broadcast by NBCSN.

In return, one of the teams’ Big Ten Conference games scheduled to be hosted by the Badgers in the 2018-19 season will move to Chicago. The date of that game hasn’t been announced.

“Not only is it big for our program, it’s great for college hockey,” Badgers associate head coach Mark Osiecki said Monday. “The more opportunity we have to play on that big stage and surround ourselves with the highest level of people, it’s great for our sport.”

The Badgers have never played at the United Center but practiced there last January. Notre Dame was in the Frozen Four at the 19,717-seat venue last April.

The Fighting Irish are in their first season as a member of the Big Ten men’s hockey league, and they’re a regular on the Badgers’ schedule for the first time since Notre Dame was in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association from 1971 to 1981.

The Badgers have a number of connections to Chicago and the Blackhawks.

Coach Tony Granato is from the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove and formerly worked with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville with the Colorado Avalanche.

Granato’s brother Don was an associate head coach at UW last season before joining the Blackhawks’ coaching staff.

Osiecki was an associate head coach for the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League team in Rockford, Illinois.

Seven players on the Badgers roster are from the Chicago area, and five Illinois natives are among those who have given UW an oral commitment to join in future seasons.

“Selfishly, for us it’s outstanding from a recruiting standpoint in the Chicago area,” Osiecki said. “Obviously, Notre Dame’s right there as well so it’s great for us to put our foot there.”

Tickets for the Jan. 21 game will go on sale to UW and Notre Dame season ticket holders at 10 a.m. Thursday. The public sale begins at 10 a.m. Friday through the United Center box office or Ticketmaster, which lists prices between $25 and $95.

Monday’s announcement was the second time that UW and Notre Dame have teamed up to plan neutral site games this year. The schools in August announced football games at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field for 2020 and Chicago’s Soldier Field for 2021.