Bucky's 5th Quarter's "Meet the Freshmen" series continues today with a freshman forward from New Prague, MN. We've been introducing you to a couple of incoming hockey freshmen every week leading up to the Badgers season opener October 7th versus Northern Michigan at the Kohl Center. We've already featured goalie Landon Peterson, defensemen Jake McCabe, and forwards Brendan Woods, Joseph LaBate, Matt Paape and Brad Navin. Today the spotlight is on Tyler Lapic.
Lapic rolls into Madison after spending the past three seasons in the United States Hockey League. His tenure in the league was spread across three cities (Omaha, Des Moines, and Chicago). The physical Minnesota native played his high school hockey for New Prague before making the jump to the USHL. Former teammate and close friend from his New Prague days, Seth Ambroz, is set to be a freshman for Minnesota this year, which could add more fuel to an already great rivalry.
Lapic was a big time scorer in high school but that never really carried over with him to junior hockey. In 87 career games over three seasons, the 6'1, 200 pound forward scored 8 goals and had 19 assists for 27 points. Part of the reason for the lack of numbers, especially last season with Chicago was that his team wasn't any good. Last season Chicago only won 9 games out of 60. Lapics 14 points last year were actually good enough for a tie for fourth on the team in scoring.
Badger fans have been awaiting the arrival of Lapic for what seems like an eternity. Lapic committed to the Badgers in April of 2008, by far the longest of any of the incoming freshmen this season. Like Paape last night, with the length of time between Lapic's original commitment and this story, the original quotes from his commitment have been erased from the internet.
Lapic was always one of the top players in his age group and we were able to pull up some scouting reports on Lapic from when he was still in high school. Here are some quotes from Western College Hockey blogger Chris Dilks on Lapic:
"Even if he didn't look particularly strong, the thing that impressed me the most with Lapic was his ability to control the puck. He reminded me a lot of Travis Morin in the way that he doesn't look particularly strong, but is incredibly difficult to knock off the puck because he does such a nice job of using his body to protect the puck."
"He also displayed some pretty soft hands. His skating ability was decent, but could probably improve. I think that will come along once his legs get a little stronger. His positioning in the offensive zone was excellent. He did a great job of moving around the offensive zone, and created a couple goals off a nice cycle."
Lapic was also profiled by DJ Powers of Hockey's Future:
"Lapic can perhaps be best described as a skilled and instinctive offensive player. He has tremendous awareness and thinks the game remarkably well for such a young player. He has good size, but it is also quite evident that he is still growing into his body. Nevertheless, Lapic thrives in the physical game. He does a great job of staying with plays and is strong on the puck."
"Lapic is particularly dangerous around the net. If he’s not putting the puck in the net, then he can often be found getting it to one of his teammates. He has superb playmaking ability and can utilize open spaces quite well. Lapic is an excellent skater with very good speed who moves really well with the puck."
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves sees Lapic as someone who might be able to make an immediate contribution to the team in 2011-2012:
"Tyler is a power forward, big lad, who brings a nice skill set to the rink. We expect him, hopefully right away, to be a contributor."
Lapic had a knee injury during his high school days and in viewing him before the injury and after the injury it seemed like he may have lost a step. I will not that my personal viewing of him came shortly after the injury and he may not have been back to full strength. Nearly three years later Lapic should be fully healed up and ready to go for the Badgers.
As with all the freshmen forwards we've previewed, we've noted that there is playing time to be had at this position. Lapic fits the profile of a fourth line winger for a Mike Eaves team perfectly and could fit in immediately. He's currently playing on a line with Brendan Woods and Sean Little which would be considered the 5th line and not in the lineup but he'll get his shot.
Most of the forwards at the end of the lineup right now are interchangeable and none of them are proven commodities. Some of the freshmen forwards that were brought in this season aren't suited for a fourth line role so if they aren't on the top three lines, they probably won't be in the lineup. That's an advantage for a guy like Lapic who should thrive in a checking line role.
The Tyler Lapic File:
- Last Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
- Hometown: New Prague, Minnesota
- Size: 6'1, 200 pounds
- Handed: Left
- Last Seasons Stats: 42 GP, 3 G, 11 A, 14 PTS
- 2011-2012 Prediction: I truly believe that Lapic can shine in a fourth line role for the Badgers this season but it remains to be seen how much playing time he'll actually get. He'll get his shot, hopefully he makes the most of it when it's presented to him. 15 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS.
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