The Wisconsin men’s hockey season is still three months away, but that’s not stopping the Badgers from hitting the ice in July.
For the third time in four years, four Badgers were selected in the NHl entry draft. With practice starting this week, the 7 freshmen are in Madison and are eager to see what they can accomplish in their time at Wisconsin.
“I mean, we want to win,” said freshman forward Alex Turcotte, drafted 5th overall to the LA Kings. “Our goal is to win the Big Ten. And hopefully go to the tournament and maybe win a national championship. I think if you’re not thinking about those things, then you’re not doing it right.”
“It’s nice to come here and get a year,” said freshman forward Cole Caufield, drafted 15th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. “[I want to] feel comfortable here and try to dominate this level before going to the next. I feel like that’s a big thing and a big part of my confidence. So I want to do what I can here and help the team win as much as I can.”
First round selections Turcotte and Caufield, as well as other NHL entry draft picks Owen Lindmark and Ryan Donovan, join a Badger squad that’s returning six of their top seven scorers. After last year’s team disappointed, going below a .500 record for the season and in conference, junior defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk says this year’s squad has extra motivation to do better.
“We’ve got a lot expected out of us this year,” said Kalynuk. “I think rankings mean nothing, whatever they’re going to be. We’re still going to have to go out and play and prove ourselves. I think we’ve obviously got a good team. But it doesn’t mean anything until we go out and do it.”
In total, the team will practice 10 times in July and August in order to get ready for a preseason trip to Canada. The Badgers will play in two exhibition games at the end of August and beginning of September in British Columbia.