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Badgers Recruiting: Wisconsin lands U.S. U-17 Goaltender Luke Opilka

The Badgers go back to St. Louis and pick up a commitment from goaltender Luke Opilka, who will play at the U.S. NTDP this season.

Opilka (center) poses with U.S. U-17 teammates Matthew Tkachuk (left) & fellow UW recruit Luke Kunin (right)
Opilka (center) poses with U.S. U-17 teammates Matthew Tkachuk (left) & fellow UW recruit Luke Kunin (right)

Wisconsin landed an elite goaltending recruit Monday, when St. Louis native Luke Opilka announced his commitment to the Badgers on Twitter.

Recruiting goaltenders can be difficult, but the Badgers are taking a shot with one of the best in the country. Opilka was offered, and accepted a spot with the U.S. National Team Development Program U-17 team for the upcoming season.

Opilka played for the St. Louis Jr. Blues last season, along with current Wisconsin recruit Luke Kunin. Playing on a very talented U-16 squad, Opilka went 18-2-1 in league play with a 1.55 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage while earning four shutouts. Opilka elevated his game in the playoffs, going 3-0 with a 0.33 goals against average and .979 save percentage with two shutouts.

The 6-foot-2, 159-pound Opilka has a very nice frame for a goaltender and is said to be very advanced in the technical aspects of the game. A source noted that Opilka can be a touch robotic at times, but that he's elite for his age.

One potential risk down the road is the fact that Opilka has been drafted by the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL Priority Selection. The Rangers selected Opilka in the 6th round, No. 102 overall. Kitchener has been very persuasive with committed American players in the past, most notably John Gibson, who had committed to defend the net for Michigan.

Opilka is expected to enroll at Wisconsin for the fall of 2015 when current Badgers' goaltenders Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson graduate. Fellow net-minder Gabe Grunwald also committed to Wisconsin, although his commitment for 2013 has been delayed until the fall of 2014.

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