April 1, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- Now that the Wisconsin men's hockey season has ended, it is pro contract signing season for the Badgers. Senior forward Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) is the first official signing, inking a three-year entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings organization on Tuesday. Taken 110th overall and in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Kings, Mersch finished his college playing career last Friday in the NCAA tournament.
"Michael will bring his big body and his ability to use that to the professional level," said UW head coach Mike Eaves. "He is a big man. He scores goals in the hard areas using that big body, and he has been really diligent in becoming a better skater. He is a much better skater now than he was as a freshman and he'll have to continue to work on that because he is going to the next level. He has a work ethic and the character to get that done."
The leading goal-scorer at Wisconsin since Eaves took over the program at the start of the 2002-03 season, Mersch finished his Badger career with 67 goals in 157 games played. His 67 goals rank 23rd all-time at Wisconsin. Mersch also finished with 120 career points, good for 49th at Wisconsin all-time. An ironman on the ice, Mersch skated in all 157 games that Wisconsin played during his four-year career as a Badger.
Mersch finished his senior season with a Big Ten-leading 22 goals in all games and 12 markers in conference action. He also finished with 35 points in 37 games played, which ranked third on the team. That followed a junior season that included team-highs with 23 goals and 36 points in 42 contests.
A 2014 First-Team All-Big Ten selection, Mersch was named to the 2014 Big Ten All-Tournament Team, helping the Badgers capture their second consecutive conference tournament championship by winning the inaugural Big Ten tournament title. Mersch was twice named a Big Ten First Star of the Week and added a Big Ten Second Star of the Week accolade to his resume this past season.
A product of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, Mersch finished the season with 10 power-play goals and finished his career with 23 power-play tallies. He is the first skater in school history to lead Wisconsin in power-play goals for three seasons. He also finishes his career with 109 penalty minutes, 10 game-winning goals, three game-tying goals and two short-handed tallies.
Mersch is on track to graduate from the University of Wisconsin this summer.