Bucky's 5th Quarter's "Meet the Freshmen" series continues on tonight with a freshman forward from Appleton. 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, and Brad Navin. Today the spotlight is on Matt Paape.
Paape (pronounced Poppy) comes to the Badgers after spending the past two seasons in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers. Paape was a star for Appleton United where he lit up Wisconsin high school hockey for three seasons before forgoing his senior season to play in the USHL. Paape led Appleton to the WIAA state tournament in 2007-08, his sophomore season. United made it to the state semi-finals that season before losing to Madison Edgewood. Paape was named to the 2009 Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association All-State First Team as a junior.
Paape used the past two seasons in the USHL to grow his game and work on skills not previously needed at the high school level. Known more for his offensive skills in high school, Paape played in a variety of roles for Sioux City head coach Luke Strand. Paape spent time killing penalties and shutting down opposing teams top lines. In two seasons for the Musketeers Paape recorded 42 points in 115 games.
For most of the players we've profiled we've been able to quote the player from an article from when they committed. Unfortunately given that Paape committed over three years ago, most of the articles about his commitment have disappeared from the internet. However in a recent profile on UWBadgers.com, Paape was asked why he came to Wisconsin. His response? "Always been a dream of mine."
Paape, a 5'9, 185 pound forward out of Appleton has impressed many who have seen him in preseason practices this fall. Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves is looking for some offense out of him in his freshman season.
"Matt is a Wisconsin born and bred young man who brings a nice skill set to the game. He has a knack for being around the puck, and the puck finds him. We expect him to bring some offense to our team."
Initially I didn't have Paape penciled into more than a fourth line role as a freshman but as the team gets more and more practices under it's belt, the more and more it seems like Paape might be taking more of an increased role than was originally expected. Initial line combinations have been released, and Eaves has Pappe on a wing with junior center Derek Lee and incoming freshman Joseph LaBate, a fourth round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks.
I don't think Paape will be a top six forward as the season goes on but his early placement shows that Eaves certainly has confidence in the young lefty. Reports out of Sioux City raved about his tenacity and he seems like a player that Eaves loves to have in the lineup on an every night basis.
Last April Paape had a hat-trick for Sioux City but in talking to reporters after the game, showed off his humble side.
"I'll take (points) when I can," said Paape. "I take pride in my play in the defensive zone and that's been working well for me. I'll help the team win any way I can."