Normally I wouldn't write a preview for an exhibition game. However this isn't just any exhibition game.
Saturday night's contest on New Years Eve between Wisconsin and the U.S. National Team Development Program U18 squad is a look into the future of the Badger men's hockey program.
That's because the U.S. under 18 team features forward Nic Kerdiles who has signed a letter of intent to join the Badgers next fall. Kerdiles, who hails from Irvine, California is one of the top forwards for team USA and leads the club in goals scored this season.
Kerdiles is widely considered one of the top 2 or 3 forward recruits in the country for the class of 2012 along with Dubuque (USHL) forward and Vermont recruit Zemgus Girgensons.
Kerdiles is also expected to be a top selection in the 2012 NHL draft. Based on multiple early projections, the 6'1, 196 pound center will hear his named called in the first round in June.
Kerdiles is expected to make an immediate impact when he joins the Badgers. Last night WSJ beat writer Andy Baggot tweeted that "Wisconsin hockey recruit Nic Kerdiles is good enough that coach Mike Eaves said he could play for the Badgers right now."
Kerdiles suffered a lower body injury a few weeks ago but is expected to be ready to play this weekend against the Badgers. When asked if he was ready to play this weekend, Kerdiles responded via twitter, "Yes sir." Team USA will also play at Minnesota State on Friday.
--THE KERDILES FILE--
Nicolas Kerdiles: U.S. National Team Development Program U18
- Hometown: Irvine, California
- Position: Center/Left Wing
- Size: 6'1, 196
- Handed: Left
- Other schools considered: Michigan, North Dakota
- Kerdiles on why he chose Wisconsin: "Wisconsin has always been high on my list because of the instant interest they showed me right off the bat. They were the first to send me a questionnaire, and also really wanted me to talk to them as much as I could. I have always loved Wisconsin and they have a great track record, and I believe they are the best University for hockey to develop and get better and I have a great chance to win a National Championship with them." (Sixty Minutes Interview)
- Coach Eaves: "He’s a big forward with great feet, good first step and is really good in the corners. For his age group, he’s one of the top players in the country." (UWBadgers.com Press Release)
- Scouting Report: "He’s been able to produce against the USHL, NCAA and now international competition. Additionally, Kerdiles is a versatile player. He’s not all offense, and he’s not a passive player. Kerdiles just gets things done, and the fact that he’s producing at a high clip is an exciting development."-Chris Peters (United States of Hockey)
- Chuck's Thoughts: Kerdiles is the definition of a blue chip recruit. He's arguably the number one forward recruit in the country for 2012 and should provide an immediate impact next season for the Badgers. He can play either center or LW and will be immediately thrust into a top 6 forward role.
- Additional Notes: Kerdiles is projected to be a first round NHL Draft pick by many publications. He's been outstanding in international competitions for Team USA, most recently winning the gold medal at the Four Nations Cup. Kerdiles led the tournament in scoring with five goals in three games.
There is no TV for the exhibition game but it will be on the radio. You can find the game on WIBA 1310. The game will be available via webcast on UWBadgers.com ($).
Kerdiles is nursing a lower body injury but wouldn't miss this game for the world. The Badgers are expected to get back junior forward Derek Lee for the first time in months. Ryan Little won't play but he's getting close.
Wisconsin hosted the U.S. U18 team in January of 2010 and won 7-1.
Wisconsin's roster currently has four players (Simonelli, Mersch, McCabe, and Ramage) who have suited up for the U.S. Under 18 team.
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