Wisconsin kept its borders closed this week, landing a verbal commitment from top prep defenseman Tony Stillwell of Notre Dame Academy.
Stillwell announced his decision via Twitter on Tuesday.
Proud, humbled, and excited to announce my commitment to play college hockey the University of Wisconsin #Badgers— Anthony Stillwell (@3rdbestdavison) July 23, 2013
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Stillwell was on cloud nine.
"It feels great," Stillwell said. "Wisconsin just felt like the right fit. I'm very excited to be a Badger."
Stillwell said he visited Wisconsin in January for a hockey series, and made his final decision after checking out Madison again last week.
In addition to UW, Stillwell visited Colorado College and had serious interest from Ohio State, New Hampshire and Minnesota-Duluth. Stillwell noted that he loved CC, but Wisconsin was always No. 1 in his heart.
"Before the process started I put together a list of schools and Wisconsin was at the top," Stillwell said. "I visited Colorado College and really loved it, but Wisconsin was always No. 1."
The 5-foot-7, 140-pound Stillwell is the second defenseman from the private school in Green Bay to commit to the Badgers in the past few seasons. He follows in the footsteps of incoming UW freshman Tim Davison, who helped lead the Tritons to a state title in 2011-12 when Stillwell was a freshman.
"It's pretty neat," Stillwell said. "I've always looked up to (Davison) on and off the ice as sort of a mentor. So, it's pretty special."
While not overly big, Stillwell is an elite skater with a high hockey IQ. Stillwell's high school coach Cory McCracken told Bucky's 5th Quarter on Tuesday that Stillwell is ahead of where Davison was at the same age defensively.
As a sophomore last season, Stillwell notched two goals and 26 assists in 28 games for Notre Dame. The Tritons made it to the state semifinals, but were knocked off in their quest for a repeat championship by Verona.
Stillwell recently competed at the USA Hockey Select 16 festival, where he was named to the All-Star game. At last summer's Select 15 Festival, the United States Hockey Report ranked Stillwell as the No. 11 defenseman in the country in the 1997 birth year.
"Smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman who is elusive in traffic and defends well given his size," USHR said in July 2012.
The Green Bay native's commitment is for either 2015 or '16, depending on his development and early departures. Stillwell was selected by Sioux City in the USHL Phase I draft this spring, which has been previously known as the Futures Draft.
Stillwell will play at Notre Dame this upcoming season as well as with Team Wisconsin, and will play with Sioux City in the USHL starting in the fall of 2014.
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