Wisconsin men's hockey: Badgers ink 6 recruits in early signing period

Brookfield native Jake Linhart is one of six early signees for Wisconsin. - Serena Dalhamer-Top Shelf Shots

Mike Eaves has officially added six new recruits to the stable in the early signing period, inking three defensemen, two forwards and a goalie.

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves has announced the additions of six student-athletes that have signed letters of intent in the early signing period. The early signees include Jack Dougherty (Cottage Grove, Minn.), Keegan Ford (Waunakee, Wis.), Gabe Grunwald (Chappaqua, N.Y.), Jake Linhart (Brookfield, Wis.), Matthew Ustaski (Glenview, Ill.) and Ryan Wagner (Park Ridge, Ill.).

All six signed National Letters of Intent and are expected to join the Badgers for the fall of 2014, pending admission to the university.

Jack Dougherty

Dougherty_jack_medium

Class

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

2014

Defense

Right

6'0

185

Team

Hometown

DOB

USA NTDP U-18

Cottage Grove, Minn.

5/25/1996

Dougherty, a 6-foot, 185-pound defenseman from Cottage Grove, Minn., helped the U.S. U18 Select Team to a second-place finish at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, leading all U.S. defensemen in points (1-2=3) over five games. He currently skates for the U.S National Team Development Program's under-18 team.

Playing for his high school, St. Thomas Academy, Dougherty was part of two Class A state championship squads, tallying six goals, 39 assists and 45 points in two seasons. He has been projected as a second- or third-round pick in the NHL draft by NHL Central Scouting. He also took part in the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh Sept. 26. The game brought together the country's top 40 draft-eligible prospects.

Eaves on Dougherty: "Jack has a really good skill set as a defenseman," Eaves stated. "He can be your quarterback on the power play and he can lead the rush. He's a good skater who sees the ice well and has good skill. He also understands how to play without the puck, so he is a well-rounded defenseman."

Keegan Ford

Player Photo

Class

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

2014

Defense

Left

5'8

180

Team

Hometown

DOB

Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

Waunakee, Wis.

5/30/1996

Wisconsin legacy student-athlete Keegan Ford, son of former Wisconsin center (1984-88) and assistant coach (1994-2002) Pat Ford, adds to the class. The 5'8, 180-pound defenseman will come to the Badgers by way of the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints, where he tallied 16 points in his first year before posting one goal and five assists so far this season. Prior to joining the Fighting Saints, he netted 74 points in just 27 games for Waunakee High School as a sophomore.

Like Dougherty, Ford also participated in the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh.

Eaves on Ford: "Keegan is the son of Pat Ford, who played here," Eaves said. "He is a defenseman who plays with great spirit. He's got great puck skills and is a guy you want on your team. He can break the puck out, he can make the pass to get out of the zone. Very well-rounded defenseman who will be a very good addition to our squad."

Gabe Grunwald

Player Photo

Class

Position

Catches

Height

Weight

2014

Goaltender

Left

6'3

195

Team

Hometown

DOB

New York Bobcats (EHL)

Chappaqua, N.Y.

3/15/1993

Grunwald, at 6'3 and 195 pounds, will look to add to the Wisconsin legacy of great goaltending. Spending this season playing for the New York Bobcats in the newly-formed Eastern Hockey League, Grunwald sports a 2.44 GAA and .930 save percentage. He has also spent a season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and three years in the North American Hockey League. While in the OJHL, Grunwald became the first goaltender in league history to record a shutout and score a goal in the same game.

His father, Glen, is the former general manager of the NBA's New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors.

Eaves on Grunwald: "Gabe is a young goaltender whose two greatest qualities are that he is big and that he is athletic," Eaves said. "The things that he has you don't teach -- size and athleticism. That's a good place to start, coming in and being a goalie at the college level."

Jake Linhart

Player Photo

Class

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

2014

Defense

Left

5'10

176

Team

Hometown

DOB

Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Brookfield, Wis.

2/17/1996

Ford isn't the only recruit with UW connections, as Linhart's father, Barry, played golf for the Badgers. The 5'10, 176-pound defender has made a name for himself in his own right, however, netting a goal and seven assists in 58 games for the Green Bay Gamblers in 2012-13. This season, Linhart boasts seven assists in 16 games after coming to the team from the Chicago Mission U-16 team. He was coached at Mission by Gino Cavallini, father of current Badger Aidan Cavallini, who called him one of the nation's 10 best defenseman for his birth year.

Eaves on Linhart: "He's a very good skating, puck-handling defenseman who played two years in the USHL, which I think will help his transition to college hockey," Eaves explained. "He will be an impactful addition."

Matt Ustaski

Class

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

2014

Forward

Left

6'6

225

Team

Hometown

DOB

Langley Rivermen (BCHL)

Glenview, Ill.

5/27/1994

Ustaski, a left-handed forward, is an imposing presence at 6'6 and 225 pounds, Ustaski comes to the Badgers from the BCHL's Langley Rivermen. Through 25 games this season, Ustaski boasts nine goals and 14 points. Last season, Ustaski posted 11 goals and 27 points over 55 games.

Eaves on Ustaski: "Matt would fall into the category of a classic power forward," Eaves said. "He is 6'6 and somewhere between 220 and 225. He played high school at Lake Forest Academy before playing the last two seasons in the BCHL. As his game has grown in leaps and bounds the last couple of years, I think we are just starting to see the potential he has. He moves well for a big man and has good hands. There is a lot of untapped potential there and we are excited to have Matt with us."

Ryan Wagner

Wagner_ryan_medium

Class

Position

Shoots

Height

Weight

2014

Forward

Left

5'8

173

Team

Hometown

DOB

USA NTDP U-18

Park Ridge, Ill.

4/15/1996

Wagner, a 5'8 and 173-pound center, is currently a teammate of Dougherty with the U.S. Under-18 Team and tallied a goal in the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Also on his resume are 46 points (20-26=46) in two seasons for the Chicago Mission Midget Minor program and a 2013 Bauer National Invitational Tournament MVP award.

Eaves on Wagner: "He is a miniscule power forward, which speaks to his competitiveness," explained Eaves. "It seems like when he needs an extra gear, he can find it. He knows the game well and has good skill. I think our fans will enjoy watching this young man play."

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