Wisconsin’s Tony Granato named Big Ten Coach of the Year

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Tony Granato has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in his first season at the helm.
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Nearly a year after returning to Madison to revive the struggling University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team, head coach Tony Granato is being rewarded for the results.

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Granato was named the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year on Monday following a poll of conference coaches and media members.

The Badgers finished second in the Big Ten after finishing in last place a season ago, while improving to 14-11-1 after going 8-19-8 in then-head coach Mike Eaves’ final season at the helm.

First-round NHL draft picks Luke Kunin and Trent Frederic have led the revival, and both were also honored by the Big Ten.

Kunin was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team alongside Frederic and defenseman Jake Linhart, while Frederic was honored as the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year after scoring 15 goals (33 points) during the regular season.

A two-time All-American at Wisconsin in the late ’80s, Granato left his position as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings to become the fifth head coach in Badgers history.

Granato’s Badgers earned a bye to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, and await the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between Michigan State and Ohio State.

Currently ranked No. 18 in the PairWise — a system designed to mimic the selection process for the 16-team NCAA tournament — the Badgers will likely need to earn the conference’s auto-bid with a win in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game to qualify.