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Morgan Zulinick leaves Badgers hockey team to return home to 3-year-old son

After two-plus years with the Badgers, Morgan Zulinick finishes his Wisconsin career with nine goals and 33 points in 78 games.

Larry Radloff Photography

In a surprising development Friday afternoon, Morgan Zulinick announced he's leaving the Wisconsin hockey program at the end of the spring semester to return home to his family in British Columbia.

Zulinick, who recently wrapped up his redshirt sophomore season with the Badgers, has a three-year-old son.

"I've decided after three years here at Wisconsin, my heart is back home with my family and my son, Noah," Zulinick said in a release from the school. "I've found my desire to be back home with Noah outweighs my desire to continue on playing hockey. I think I really need this."

Zulinick notched five goals and fifteen points to finish third on the Badgers in scoring this past season. In 78 career games, Zulinick registered nine goals and 33 points.

"We were having our year-end meetings and Morgan's meeting was this morning at 9 a.m., the first one of the day," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. "He came in, sat down and shared his decision to return home to be a full-time dad.

"In talking to Morgan throughout his time here, he would talk all the time at how much Noah would change when he would see him after three or four months. He tried to stay up with him on the computer, but he had a heavy heart. Probably the best hockey he played this year was over semester break when his family was here. He lit it up on the scoresheet and played with great energy because he was glad his son was here."

While the story of Zulnick's son first game to public attention this past season thanks to a fantastic profile from the Wisconsin State Journal, Zulnick has been trying to balance being a father along with life as a Division I collegiate athlete for a while. Unknown to the public, Zulinick's decision to take a medical redshirt after a nasty leg injury as a freshman in 2012-13 was due in part to how hard it is to be a freshman adjusting to school while also having a newborn son living 18 hours away.

Hopefully the move back home lessens the burden on Zulinick.

"Right now I am paying a lot of attention to school here so I finish off on a good note and don't have any difficulties transferring over," Zulinick said. "I have applied to a couple schools back home and waiting to see if I get accepted."

Zulinick said his teammates at Wisconsin have been extremely supportive.

"I've talked to my roommates and a couple other of my teammates, so word has gotten around," Zulinick added. "Some of the guys have asked me about it, and I told them, and asked them what they thought and what they would do. They have been unbelievable with their support. A lot of them said they don't know how I've been doing it. Every one of them has met Noah."

Zulinick was set to be an important piece for a Wisconsin club that needs veteran scoring next season, but Eaves said this is the correct move.

"As hard as it is from a hockey standpoint -- he would have been a leader on our team next year - it is the right decision for Morgan at this time and we wish him well. He is a terrific young man."

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