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Wisconsin men’s hockey is nationally ranked for the first time in two years

Cameron Hughes and Matthew Freytag were also named Big Ten First and Second Stars.

For the first time since October 2014, Wisconsin men’s hockey is nationally ranked.

Following an eight-day stretch that saw Tony Granato’s Badgers knock off rival No. 7 Minnesota at the Kohl Center, upset then-No. 8 Ohio State in Columbus and finish off the sweep of the Buckeyes at Madison Square Garden with a dramatic, overtime win, Wisconsin was ranked No. 18 in the country in Tuesday’s poll.

With the wins, Wisconsin (13-8-1 overall, 6-2-0-0 Big Ten) is now tied for first in the conference with Minnesota.

The Badgers are also making noise in Pairwise, the NCAA’s tool for selecting NCAA tournament teams. Wisconsin rocketed up to No. 18 in the rankings, putting it squarely in the conversation for an NCAA tournament bid.

Wisconsin will have plenty of opportunities to continue the rise. Big Ten foes No. 6/No. 4 Penn State (5), No. 7/No. 7 Minnesota (7), and No. 11/No. 11 Ohio State (15) all rank ahead of the Badgers in both the polls and Pairwise.

The Badgers boast the sixth-ranked scoring offense (3.59 goals per game) in the nation. They also get the job done on the power play, converting at 21.77 percent, good for 10th in the country, and have the seventh-ranked penalty kill (86.7 percent).

Individual Badgers received accolades as well on Tuesday Assistant captain Cameron Hughes was named the Big Ten First Star of the Week. The junior scored the game-winning goal Saturday and added two helpers during in the Badgers’ series sweep of the Buckeyes.

Hughes has grabbed seven points during a six-game point streak (three goals, four assists). On the year, Hughes is third on the Badgers with 20 points, leading the team with 15 assists.

Sophomore forward Matthew Freytag was named the Big Ten Second Star of the Week. Freytag had goals in both games against the Buckeyes, including the game-winner on Thursday in Columbus and a gorgeous finish of a Hughes assist on Saturday at MSG. Freytag has five points in 16 games for the Badgers.