BWC Prep and E15 tour Wisco

in Other News

 

Although it’s slowly changing, the US College experience is still largely an unknown to most young Canadian athletes. Sure, spill-over media coverage of the big College bowl games, with huge stadiums filled to the brim, full fields of marching bands, parades, cheerleaders and crowds of mad cap fans, give some idea of what its all about. But nothing beats being there.

With this in mind, current Burnaby Winter Club Hockey Academy Hockey Director Maco Balkovec recently lead the Midget Prep and E15 teams on a trip the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, home the Big 10 Conference Badgers, six time national mens hockey champions.

“The basic idea was simply to give our kids some exposure to what hockey at the NCAA level looks like, both from the athletic and academic side,” Balkovec explained.

“The university experience is unlike anything we have here in terms of atmosphere, fan support, and athletic facilities. The school in the US, is the center of the community.”

 

 

With that in mind, the two BWC teams got to take in a packed UW basketball game, two UW hockey games – versus Notre Dame – and also play a couple of games vs the Milwaukee Junior Admirals during their four day tour of the university in early December.

 

 

The UW mens hockey program is centered in the 17,230 seat Kohl Center, which opened in the 1998, and features pro-level dressing rooms, training and rehab facilities. Right next door is the LaBahn Arena, which opened in 2012, a tri-level, 2,273 seat facility which hosts the women’s program.

 

 

The arenas are on right campus, which is walking distance from the State Capital in downtown Madison. A few blocks east of the Kohl Center is Camp Randall Stadium, a massive 80,341 seat football field (top photo) which first opened in November 1917. Badgers football has been a huge part of the community experience since 1895.

 

The university was founded in 1848, the same year Wisconsin became a state, and spreads over 936 acres. Current annual budget is $2,965,800,000. The university employees nearly 22,000 faculty and staff, with current enrollment of 43,820. Research expenditure is ranked 6th in the USA.

 

Balkovec knows the campus first hand. The Port Moody native was a member of the Badgers from 1991-1995, after moving up from the BCHL Merritt Centennials (1989-1991). He played 135 games, scoring 16G-64A-80 pts, and recorded the game winning goal in OT in the 1995 WCHA title game vs Colorado College.

 

 

The Badgers men’s hockey team is currently lead by Tony Granato (above centre) currently in his second year as head coach. The former NHLer (774 games) is joined on the bench by his brother Don (right) and Mark Osiecki, all three are Badger alumni. Granato was a Badger player from 1983-1987.
The BWC boys met the coaches, and visted the inner sanctum of the UW hockey program, touring the dressing rooms, work out and rehab facilities, all surrounded by dozens photos, banners and trophies illustrating Badger championships over the years.
The BWC players were clearly impressed with the facilities, the atmosphere and the athletes.

Third year BWC Midget Prep d-man Andrew Hunt commented that the campus atmosphere was very impressive and yet welcoming, and that it was obvious the players liked being there and playing for the Badgers.

He was also very impressed by the fans cheering – standing, pointing their arms and chanting in unison a number of club cheers – including the famous taunt “Sieve – sieve” while pointing at the opposing goalie when Wisconsin scores.

This year there are nine NHL prospects on the Badgers roster, including team captain Cameron Hughes (BOS), a 1996 born forward from Edmonton, Alberta, who joined the Badgers after two years with the Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL.

This year’s Badger roster includes two other Canadian players, Wyatt Kalynuk (PHI), a freshman from Virden, Manitoba, and Patrick Sexton from Ottawa. There are also two from Sweden, and six local Wisconsin picks.

The BWC Academy Midget Prep team is currently in first place in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League, with a record of 22-1-1 OTL; while the E15s are in fourth place with a record of 15-5-0.