July 6, 2012
MADISON, Wis. –- Wisconsin hockey, especially former Wisconsin men’s hockey players, has been dominating the news in the world of ice hockey over the past two weeks.
First it was defenseman Justin Schultz, who stole headlines when he decided to sign his first NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers. Schultz, the two-time Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist and two-time first-team All-America defenseman, garnered interest from just about every team in the NHL before deciding on the Oilers, a team from his home country of Canada. Twitter blew up as Justin Schultz became a trending topic and the hashtag #shultzwatch analyzed every reported move in what seemed like an epic saga.
Another former Badger defenseman, Ryan Suter, one of the most sought after free agents this summer, took over the headlines next, with the lead up and his decision to sign a contract with the Minnesota Wild. The Madison, Wis., native’s former Badger and U.S. National Team Development Program teammate Jake Dowell also signed with Minnesota as a free agent. Dowell grew up in nearby Eau Claire, Wis.
The signings gave Minnesota four Badgers as Dany Heatley and Tom Gilbert are already members of the Wild roster. The last time four Badgers skated on the same team was for Chicago when Rene Bourque, Jack Skille, Dowell and Adam Burish suited up for the Blackhawks in the 2007-08 season.
Speaking of Burish, he reunited with former Badger linemate and Plover, Wis., native Joe Pavelski when he inked a four-year deal for the San Jose Sharks. The duo made up two-thirds of the UW’s top line during its 2006 NCAA championship run. Interestingly, the Badgers’ strength coach that season was Mike Potenza, who serves in the same capacity now for the Sharks.
McCabe, Kerdiles invited to USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp
Before this past hockey season, the Badger men’s hockey program was represented at the World Junior Championship every year during the Mike Eaves’ coaching era (2002-current). The Badgers look to start a new streak as sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe and incoming forward Nicolas Kerdiles are among the 46 players invited to the National Junior Team Evaluation Camp, set for Aug. 4-11 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
The last two American teams to feature Badgers took home medals, with team captain John Ramage directing Team USA to bronze in 2011 and team captain Derek Stepan, Ramage and Jake Gardiner helping Team USA to its second-ever gold at the event in 2010.
Badger head coach Mike Eaves served as head coach for the 2004 squad that included Suter, Dowell and Jeff Likens, and won the country’s first gold medal at the event.
Former Badgers Jim Johannson (General Manager), Mark Osiecki (Assistant Coach) and Tony Granato (Camp Coach) will also be involved with the upcoming evaluation camp.
Badger hockey social media sites feature Coliseum fans signs this week
Every day this week, and likely next week, the “Photo of the Day” feature on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest has been of Badger hockey fan signs from the days inside the Dane County Coliseum.
Handful of Badgers at NHL development camps
Shortly after the NHL draft each summer, which typically takes place in late June, most NHL teams invite their new draft picks, other prospects from past drafts and a handful of other free agent prospects to take part in a development camp. At least eight current and future Badgers have or will take part.
Nicolas Kerdiles – Anaheim
Joseph LaBate – Vancouver
Joel Rumpel – Vancouver
Michael Mersch – LA Kings
Brad Navin - Buffalo
Jake McCabe – Buffalo
Jason Clark – New York Islanders
John Ramage – Calgary Flames