If you don’t know, I go to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., home to the Badgers. This is my second year working for the Badgers men’s hockey team and athletic department at UW, and this year definitely looks a lot different than last season.
Last year, the Badgers played in an 18,000 seat arena, the Kohl Center, and filled up their student section almost every game. It’s one of the best atmospheres in college hockey, and it was my job to cover that on Instagram for our followers. I got an all access pass to the arena and loved getting content of players interacting with fans, student section hijinks, and of course, goal celebrations from my spot right on the glass. If we had a ceremonial puck drop or intermission event, I was on the ice covering it. I’m still proud of myself for making it through the entire season without slipping.
But this season is different.
First of all, I got COVID about a month ago and had to miss the first two home series of the season. The Badgers aren’t playing in the Kohl center this season; with no fans it makes more sense to play in Labahn, an attached facility that houses our elite women’s hockey program. Plus, basketball also plays in the Kohl, so it just makes sense to leave the floor set up rather than switch out the ice.
There’s also a couple of rule changes in college hockey. The NCAA adopted the NHL’s three on three overtime format and limited TV time outs to one or two per period. They also shortened intermission to only 12 minutes.
Honestly, I’m just so happy to be back in the rink and working. My access is pretty limited, I can’t get any content of the guys playing two touch or attempting to run football plays, but I can still get some good warm up shots on the glass. Not being able to move around as much just means I’m in the perfect spot to catch every goal. I also got to learn some other useful skills such as Photoshop and the Adobe programs to make score graphics. To fill some content droughts before the season started, I had the opportunity to do a couple Q and As with our freshmen to introduce them to Badger fans.
This past weekend was my first set of games I got to work in person this year. ASU was in town, and before hitting the ice in Madison, they hadn’t won a game. Unfortunately for us, there was a COVID exposure on the team so we were down three guys in addition to our two top line centers, one of which is at the Hockey Canada camp and other is injured. We had to move a defensemen up to wing.
The Big Ten season is pretty condensed. The Badgers are set to play 12 games in less than a month and are almost done with the first half of the season. It’s not quite clear how the rest of the season will look, but this gives college hockey an opportunity to be front and center in the hockey world.