March 7, 2012
The official Gameday Program at each Badgers home series includes player profiles. This feature is just one of the exclusive items available inside the program, which is available for purchase on game day at Kohl Center or online at NationalWClub.com. Today we look at freshman forward Brad Navin, who was featured in the program for the RIT series. | Purchase Gameday Programs
BY MARK BENNETT
MADISON, Wis. -- Brad Navin is a very goal-oriented guy. For instance, in high school he scored 127 goals over a four year career, including 53 his junior season. In 14 games through an injury-shortened senior season, he scored 29 goals and was a finalist for Mr. Hockey Wisconsin.
And in addition to scoring goals, the freshman forward is also setting some for himself.
Growing up, Navin had strong standards to look up to, setting the bar high.
"I watched Joe Pavelski quite a bit just because he was from Stevens Point, which is close to me and he played [at Wisconsin] and I came to a lot of games," Navin said.
Not a bad idol. After leading the Badgers in scoring for two seasons and bringing a National Championship to Madison in 2006, Pavelski made the jump to the NHL, where he has become a goal-scoring star with San Jose.
But head coach Mike Eaves also has goals for Navin as well, and those goals lie with another player.
"Talking to coach, he wants me to model after David Backes so that's a goal of mine to do that for coach and myself," Navin said.
Also not a bad player to look up to. Backes played three years with Minnesota State before moving to the professional ranks, where he has been a scoring machine with over 30 goals in two of his last three seasons. The Blues' captain is known for his physical play that goes along with his offensive streak.
Navin knows he's nowhere near either Pavelski or Backes right now, but it's definitely a goal he aims for.
"Hopefully someday, that's definitely a goal," Navin said. "I just have to keep working hard every day here and hopefully that will become a reality."
Navin is one of the youngest skaters for the Badgers, having turned 19 this summer. He made the rare jump from high school to college hockey, but that wasn't always his path. At one point he strongly considered leaving high school early for the junior leagues.
"My senior year, I was as close as you can get to going," Navin said. "I was going to go to Sioux City [USHL] and I talked with the coaches and we figured out schooling and everything, and then just decided I was going to stay."
That senior season was cut short halfway through by an MCL injury, however, which was tough for Navin.
"I didn't like sitting out at all watching my team," Navin said. "I only got to play 14 games my senior season. That was kind of why I stayed back, just to play with my high school buddies that I've always played with growing up."
In spite of the setback, Navin says he had an increased drive once his injury healed, and he made another goal for himself.
"To pick up where I left off," Navin said. "Not to be behind at all."
Through the first sixteen games this season though, Navin did something pretty unordinary. He didn't score any goals.
"It was definitely getting to me," Navin said. "We're halfway through the season now and, scoring all those goals last year-- I knew it was going to be a big step--but I was hoping that one would come sooner than that."
That frustration finally lifted against No. 1 Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 9 when Navin collected his first goal and gave his team a 1-0 lead.
"It felt awesome," Navin said. "At first I didn't even know it went in. It hit my stick and then I saw Frankie [Simonelli], who shot it, he threw his arms up so I thought it had to have gone in. It was a dream come true, that's for sure."
Apparently the thrill of scoring felt so good that Navin thought he would try it again the next night.
"Now that one came, two came," Navin said. "So hopefully they keep coming."
Navin has since added a third goal to his season, scoring Feb. 25 at Bemidji State.
Navin, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres , looks to continue improving his game by focusing on the little things.
"The biggest thing that I've noticed is the little details," Navin said. "Coach always says details build empires."
Attention to detail, along with his size, great shot and speed might someday lead him to an NHL career--another one of Navin's goals.
For now though, Navin says playing for the Badgers is an honor and he is looking to make the most of his opportunity.
It seems likely that Navin is not done with his goals.