B1G Hockey Notebook: Andy Brandt's return to Madison fills Badgers' coaching staff
A member of Wisconsin's 2006 NCAA title team, Andy Brandt will return to his old school as an assistant for Tony Granato. Also, Adam Nightingale's first Michigan State roster is taking shape, and the Gophers hand out their season-ending awards.
A year removed from their first Big Ten title of the modern college hockey era, and more than 15 years since Wisconsin claimed the most recent of its six NCAA hockey titles, the Badgers plucked a member of that 2006 national championship team as the next guy to carry a whistle and help run practice drills.
When you think of those 2006 Badgers, who beat Boston College in Milwaukee for their only NCAA crown under former coach Mike Eaves, you think most prominently of future NHLers like Joe Pavelski, Robbie Earl, Adam Burish, Tom Gilbert and Brian Elliott. Scoring a goal and adding two assists in 22 games for the Badgers that season, Andy Brandt was a complimentary player on a team that went 30-10-3 and survived a multi-overtime score from Cornell in the regionals to get to the Frozen Four.
Last week Brandt, who turns 39 next month, made the jump from Division III St. Norbert where he has been an assistant coach for the past five years, to the Badgers’ hockey office.
“I am excited to add Andy to our coaching staff. Badger fans will remember him as a hard-working forward that left it all on the ice, as well for his contributions to our 2006 national championship team,” said Badgers head coach Tony Granato in a statement released by the school. “Andy has lots to add to our staff and I can't wait for our players to see the passion, energy and hockey expertise that he will add to our program.”
Originally from Wausau, in northern Wisconsin, Brandt was a part of a D-III national title in 2018 with St. Norbert, which is near Green Bay, and was a head coach in the ECHL prior to the return to his home state.
“It’s a thrill to be back in Madison and help out what I think is the nation’s greatest college hockey program," Brandt said in a statement. “It was special playing and studying at Wisconsin and I can’t wait to get back into it.”
He replaces former Badger forward Mark Stobel who resigned from Granato’s staff in April after spending five years as a coach there. Strobel, who was a Minnesota prep state champion at Hill-Murray in 1991, had two years remaining on his contract, but departed following one of the worst on-ice seasons in the history of the Badgers program. After winning the 2021 Big Ten title and advancing to the NCAA tournament with a 20-10-1 mark, last season was a notable step back. The Badgers were 10-24-3 and bowed out in the first round of the Big Ten playoffs.
Spartans dip into transfer portal
New head coach Adam Nightingale’s first Michigan State team looks to be a mix of new and familiar faces if his first month on the job and the personnel secured is any indication of the program’s direction.
Like so many other teams, it starts in goal for the Spartans, who had a roster spot to fill after mainstay Drew DeRidder transferred to North Dakota with one year of eligibility remaining. In his place, the Spartans are bringing in a name familiar to Big Ten hockey fans to stop pucks. Dylan St. Cyr was Notre Dame’s mainstay in goal in 2020-21, playing 22 games for the Irish and winning 11. He spent last season with Quinnipiac and posted 10 wins in 13 starts with notable numbers – .936 saves percentage, 1.16 goals against.
With junior Pierce Charleson returning to East Lansing, the Spartans look to have a goalie tandem in place. Other transfer portal additions for Nightingale include former Clarkson defenseman Michael Underwood, who is a Michigan native, former RPI forward Zach Dubinsky and former Lake Superior State forward Miroslav Mucha.
And two names familiar to Spartans fans will be back for their fifth season of eligibility as twin defensemen Cole and Christian Krygier announced their intent to spend one more year at the revamped Munn Ice Arena.
The Spartans were 12-23-1 last season, and ended the year on a 1-15-0 run, which in part led to the dismissal of Danton Cole after five years at the helm of his alma mater.
Meyers dominates Gophers’ team awards
On his way out the door after 10 great years as the Gopher men’s hockey team’s sports information contact, Brian Deutsch got to do a familiar activity one last time: announce awards won by former Gopher Ben Meyers.
The 2022 Big Ten player of the year and Hobey Baker finalist, now skating for Team USA at the World Championships in Finland, was not surprisingly named the Gophers team MVP. He also collected the team honors for leadership and sportsmanship and for being the Gophers’ MVP in the playoffs. Most notably, Meyers scored the overtime winner in their NCAA tournament opener versus UMass, on the Gophers’ road to a first Frozen Four trip since 2014.
Defenseman Brock Faber was named the Gophers most determined player, while goalie Justen Close was named the team’s unsung hero. Forward Matthew Knies was named team rookie of the year.
Off-ice efforts were awarded as well, with forward Colin Schmidt honored as the Gophers’ top student-athlete, and Schmidt sharing the award for community service with defenseman Ryan Johnson.
The Gophers won the Big Ten regular season title in 2022 with a 26-13-0 overall record. Meyers signed with the Colorado Avalanche at season's end, forgoing his final two seasons of college eligibility.