April 24, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin men's hockey recruiting class picked up four more members on Thursday, head coach Mike Eaves announced. Combined with the six recruits from the early signing period, the Badgers have signed 10 total commitments this year. Joining Wisconsin for the 2014-15 school year are forwards Jason Ford (Waunakee, Wis.), Cameron Hughes (Edmonton, Alberta), Cullen Hurley (Eagan, Minn.) and Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia).
Wisconsin legacy student-athlete Jason Ford, son of former Wisconsin center (1984-88) and assistant coach (1994-2002) Pat Ford, joins his brother, Keegan, in UW's recruiting class. His commitment keeps the Ford brother combination intact, as the duo currently skates together for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League. Jason has played in 51 games this season, potting 10 goals and dishing out 12 assists. In four playoff games, Jason boasts a goal and three points in four games, to help his team reach the USHL's conference finals. The 6-0, 178-pound forward tallied 45 points in 54 games for the Janesville Jets during the 2012-13 campaign. He led the state of Wisconsin in scoring with 103 points in 27 games as a senior at Waunakee High School in 2012.
"Jason is a good-skating forward who will provide us with a lot of different things. He's a very intelligent player who can kill penalties, plays with great energy and understands the game," said Eaves. "He will be a significant player for us."
Hughes is the first of two Canadians in the spring class for the Badgers, and the left-handed forward should give the Badgers some scoring punch. The 5-11, 160-pound center averaged 1.1 points per game for Spruce Grove of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, turning in 21 goals and 36 assists for 57 points in 52 games played. He ranked 15th in the league in scoring despite being one of the league's youngest players.
Like fellow Canadian Rockwood, Hughes excelled in his league's playoffs, tying for third with 17 points for Spruce Grove and posting the primary assist on the tournament-winning overtime goal to give the Saints the AJHL crown and the 2014 AJHL Gas Drive Cup. Hughes and his team move on to the Western Canada Cup.
"Cameron is a very dynamic young player," said Eaves. "He can skate very well, and people have labeled him as a 200-foot player. He'll be a very exciting player for our fans to watch."
Hurley comes to the Badgers by way of the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks, where he tallied two goals and 10 assists in 55 games this season as one of the team's two captains. Last season, he had 12 goals and 13 assists in 66 games, also with Muskegon. The 6-2, 195-pound lefty forward continues the pipeline from Eagan, Minn., to the Badgers, as both former Badger Tyler Barnes and current Badger Joseph LaBate have called the town home in recent years.
Hurley played three years of high school hockey at Academy of Holy Angels before moving on to junior hockey. In 80 high school games, he scored 47 goals and 107 points, while going plus-77. He skated the 2011-12 season in the NAHL with the Aberdeen Wings.
"He's a very good skater, with good size," said Eaves. "He's an intelligent player who will provide us a lot of things, much like Jason Ford will."
Rockwood, a British Columbia Hockey League product, averaged more than a point per game in 2013-14, with 74 points in 57 games for the Coquitlam Express. The 5-10, 175-pound forward's point total was the fifth highest in the BCHL this season, while the lefty's 61 assists led the league. He added 14 assists and 18 points in 19 playoff games, and scored the short-handed tournament-winning goal for Coquitlam in a 4-3 come-from-behind victory that helped the team sweep the Vernon Vipers and capture the 2014 BCHL Fred Page Cup as BCHL champions. The team now heads to the Western Canada Cup, where it could go against future Badger teammate and fellow recruit Hughes.
"He will remind people of Mark Zengerle," said UW head coach Mike Eaves. "He sees the ice very well and has the skill to be a great passer. He's probably a pass-first guy, like Mark was. He's really a student of the game. When you talk to him, he loves the game and wants to talk about it. He sees things when he's watching other people play. Very skilled player, very intelligent player."
The incoming recruiting class will look to fill the void left by the departure of nine seniors, as well as junior defenseman Jake McCabe and sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles, who both signed professional contracts at the conclusion of the 2013-14 UW hockey season.
2014-15 WISCONSIN MEN'S HOCKEY RECRUITING CLASS
||Cottage Grove, Minn.
||U.S. NTDP (USHL)
||New York (EHL)
||Spruce Grove (AJHL)
||Green Bay (USHL)
||Coquitlam, British Columbia
||Park Ridge, Ill.
||U.S. NTDP (USHL)