Meet the Freshmen: Brendan Woods

As you're probably already aware, we've started the "Meet the Freshmen" series here on Bucky's 5th Quarter where we'll be 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. Last week we featured goalie Landon Peterson and defensemen Jake McCabe. Today the spotlight is on freshman forward Brendan Woods.

Woods comes to the Wisconsin hockey program after spending the past two seasons in the United States Hockey League. He was selected 23rd overall in the 2009 USHL draft by the Chicago Steel where he was set to play his rookie season. That start unfortunately was delayed. During a pre-season game for the Steel, Woods suffered a broken leg that caused him to miss the entire first half of his rookie year.

Last year saw Woods with a change of venue as the Muskegon Lumberjacks scooped up the 6'3, 205 pound forward who Chicago left unprotected in the expansion draft. Woods made an immediate impact and more than doubled his point total in his second USHL season finishing the year with 28 points in 63 games for the Lumberjacks who are coached by former Wisconsin assistant Kevin Patrick. Woods also earned the respect of his teammates as he was named an alternate captain for Muskegon.

Woods made his college decision in early March of 2010 and was not short on potential suitors. Woods chose the Badgers over WCHA rivals North Dakota and Minnesota as well as New Hampshire, Northeastern, and Colorado College. In an interview I did with him shortly after committed, he talked about his decision to become a Badger.

"I just thought it was the best fit for me. I know that Coach Eaves has coached at the top levels, so he knows what it takes to get there which is good for me and the rest of the team."

Hockey runs in Woods blood. His father, Bob Woods who had a lengthy minor league hockey career has been an assistant coach for the NHL's Washington Capitals for the past two seasons. Previous to that he was the head man for the AHL's Hershey Bears (Capitals top farm club) for five years. The elder Woods wasn't shy giving praise to Badger head man Mike Eaves in an interview shortly after Brendan's commitment.

"I think it’s a great situation.  Eaves really likes to have guys that have that in their family, the pro hockey. I was able to meet him on the visit there. I like the fact that he’s going to a program where he’s experienced and knows what pro hockey’s all about. From what I hear, he does a very good job preparing kids for pro."

Despite being ranked by NHL Central Scouting the past two seasons, Woods was passed up in both the 2010 and 2011 drafts. While no NHL teams have taken a shot on Woods yet, his talent has not gone unnoticed.

Here's what a couple of scouts have had to say about the rangy winger:

Kirk Luedeke-Red Line Report (9/10/2010)

"At 6-2, 195 pounds (now 6'3, 205), he has the kind of size NHL teams are always looking for. Although not an outstanding skater, he generates power in his lower leg drive and can get where he needs to go."

Max Geise-Red Line Report (9/10/2010)

"I thought Woods was one of the better forwards in the USHL at the end of last season (09-10 season). If he can play a full season and build on last year, then I think he'll get drafted in June."

Dan Sallows-DanSallows.com

"Woods is rounding out to be your prototypical power forward type, and slowly but surely finding a nice touch around the net. The 19-year-old is a fantastic skater that enjoys getting physically engaged, has a nice shot, excellent hockey sense, drives to the net hard, competes down low and along the boards, and is a leader on and off the ice."

Kevin Patrick-Muskegon Lumberjacks Head Coach and General Manager

"He’s a power forward. He’s at his best when he’s creating space for himself and his linemates, shooting the puck and getting to the front of the net."

Mike Eaves-Wisconsin Head Coach

"He’s from a hockey family. His dad [Bob] played in the NHL and now coaches with the Washington Capitals. He can be a power forward for us. He plays at top tempo and gives us good size. He will play hard."

With 15 forwards on the Wisconsin roster and not a truckload of experience returning, anyone and everyone could find their way into the Wisconsin lineup this season. Woods brings something to the Badger lineup that they don't have a ton of up front with a few exceptions and that's size. However it's what he does with that size that will determine whether or not he'll become a regular in the Wisconsin lineup in his rookie year. Judging by his 86 penalty minutes last season I think it's safe to assume Woods isn't afraid of contact. Woods didn't burn up the score sheet in during his tenure in the USHL but he found the net enough to become a real intriguing prospect.

The Brendan Woods File:

  • Last Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
  • Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
  • Size: 6'3, 205
  • Handed: Left
  • Last Seasons Stats: 63 GP, 15 G, 13 A, 28 PTS, 86 PIM.
  • 2011-2012 Projection: As is going to be the case with most freshmen forwards, playing time is going to play a considerable role in his point total. In my initial roster projections I had Woods on the outside looking in but I think he'll end up playing in about half the games for the Badgers this season. GP 21, 3 G, 2 A, 5 PTS.

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For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)

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