Relevant Rewind: Madison hockey in spring of 1926
The first game in program history for the Wisconsin Badgers occurred January 14, 1922, against the Milwaukee Athletic Club. The game took place outdoors where the Library Mall currently sits on the Madison campus. The team played eight games that season and went winless. In fact, Wisconsin’s first collegiate hockey win took place in that rink January 20, 1923, against Michigan. Three years later, the Badgers played fifteen games, winning eight and tying four, and still played home contests in the same rink.
Scheduling was unpredictable at the time because games were at the mercy of the local weather. In the 1925-26 season, Wisconsin was able to play three exhibition games with two taking place before the new year. Playing three games at Eveleth (2) and Virginia (1) across the western border proved to be valuable practice. The Badgers opened the regular season with two shutouts the following weekend at Marquette and scored 14 goals in two shutouts. The team didn’t lose a game until the back-half of a two-game series at Michigan on February 13, 1926. This set the stage for a big Michigan series at home at the beginning of March. Wisconsin entered the series with a 6-1-4 record.
On the opposite side of the puck, Michigan didn’t play the first game of the season until January 23. Wisconsin had already played five games and three exhibition contests by that date. The Wolverines hosted rivals Michigan State that day and defeated the Spartans 4-0. Michigan travelled to Michigan State on February 5 for the second game of the season and won again; this time 4-1. By the time the series at Wisconsin showed up on the schedule in the spring of 1926, the team was looking to right the ship after having just been swept by Minnesota. The Wolverines had played eight games at that point with a record of 3-3-2 going into the series.
Both games in March 1926 between Michigan and host Wisconsin were close affairs. The Badgers eked out a 2-1 victory in game one on Thursday, March 4. Wisconsin shut out the Wolverines the next day 2-0. The losses ended Michigan’s season with a final record of 3-5-2. Wisconsin was able to play yet another series the following week at Minnesota. Wisconsin was swept yet the Badgers ended with an impressive 8-3-4 record.
This series in 1926 was the fifteenth and sixteenth games played between these two programs. This weekend will see games 160 and 161 take place in the all-time series. Both games will be played on campus in Madison. However, the setting will be a little different inside the Kohl Center.
In the featured photo, three Wisconsin players and a Michigan player chase the puck across the rink. Games regularly took place in the daytime at this point in hockey history. A string of lights can be seen in the photo that stretches across the width of the rink. These lights likely didn’t provide an appropriate amount of light in order to safely play a collegiate game. This photo was date stamped October 27, 1926. However, no Wisconsin game occurred on that date and there likely wasn’t outdoor ice at that time. Trees in the background also appear to have no leaves which would be very uncommon at that point in the fall. Details on the opponent aren’t included with the photo but the opposing player appears to be wearing a sweater that Michigan players wore at that time. The last time Michigan visited Wisconsin prior to October 27, 1926, was the March 1926 series. We at College Hockey History estimate that is when this photo was taken.
Photo Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives: Meuer Albums Vol 10. Photo by William Meuer.