MADISON (WKOW) -- It's back to business for the reigning Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers. While they lost star players like Hobey Baker Trophy winner Cole Caufield, their gritty attitude remains the same.
"[This year's goal is] about getting everyone on the same page and getting them on the same page quickly," said Verona native Tarek Baker, who's returning as a UW graduate student. "It's more so just dialing in those things that were successful last year and things that we weren't great at and just getting better every day at those things."
Senior defenseman Tyler Inamoto is also ready to take on the leadership reigns.
"We're not worried about winning the Big Ten right now," said Inamoto, who is a 2017 NHL draftee. "We're worried about focusing on getting better everyday. When that time comes, we'll be ready for it."
The 2020-2021 Big Ten Conference kings are eyeing to defend their crown, which the program has only done five times. In order to potentially repeat, UW head coach Tony Granato is keeping his players in check.
"Last year's team was special because we played for one another," said Granato, who has coached the Badgers since 2016. "We understood the pride that we played with. When you do that, you make each other better."
Additionally, the Badgers will get to be reunited with fans at the Kohl Center. Last season, only parents and close relatives were allowed inside the arena. Some players will experience playing in the arena for the first time ever.
"We've got 13 [to] 15 guys that have never played in the Kohl Center before so it's going to be exciting when we get everyone in for that first time," said Baker."
"They were in awe just to practice there so it's going to be a lot of fun for us when we get that place rocking again," said Inamoto.
Granato added the comeback for fans brings another element back to the ice.
"To have them back in the building to be part of it, it will make [this season] that much more special for us."
The UW men's hockey team will drop the puck on Friday, October 8 against Michigan Tech to begin the season. Prior to, they will travel to Duluth for a preseason matchup with University of Minnesota-Duluth.