The USHL wrapped up its Phase I and II drafts this week and one prominent Wisconsin recruit saw his named called early on Monday. Dominick Mersch, who is the younger brother of Michael, was selected No. 5 overall by the Lincoln Stars in the Phase I portion of the draft.
Dominick committed to the Badgers April 19 during a campus visit in Madison.
"It really can't be beat," Mersch said when asked why he picked the Badgers. "Having my brother go there I know what it's like socially and what it's like being part of the (Wisconsin) program, what they can do for you on the ice and off."
Mersch played this past season for the Chicago Mission U16 program where he helped lead his team to the USA Hockey Tier 1 national tournament.
The Park Ridge, Ill., native visited Miami and also had a campus visit set up at Princeton before he jumped at the chance to wear the Wisconsin sweater. Mersch plays a much different style than his older brother, who was one of the most prolific scorers for the Badgers in recent years.
"I'm not a 1-on-1 guy that's going to go out and beat a bunch of guys. But I'll get the dirty goals and I'm physical, have good vision and can make plays," Mersch said. "I'm a blue-collar guy.
"I'm also a lot better skater than my brother," Mersch also joked.
The man responsible for selecting Mersch -- Stars' general manager Jon Hull -- has known the Mersch family for a long time. Hull used to run the Team Illinois AAA program, and coached Michael before he left for the U.S. National Team Development Program.
Just a freshman in high school, Mersch is expected to return to the Mission for one more season before spending the next two in Lincoln. Mersch is expected to arrive on campus in Madison in the fall of 2017.
Another recent Wisconsin recruit will play in the USHL in a different capacity next season. Trent Frederic committed to Wisconsin April 17 and will play next season in Ann Arbor for the U.S. National Team Development Program.
Frederic will be on the U-17 team, which plays the majority of its schedule against USHL competition. The U-17 team also plays in a variety of international competitions as well.
Six Wisconsin natives were selected in the Phase I portion of the draft, including four alone in the second round. The run was started by Milwaukee Jr. Admirals forwards Grant Cruikshank (Youngstown) and Jake Nielsen (Chicago), and was followed by Carver Watson (Sioux City) and Alec Semandel (Cedar Rapids).
Semandel, who is from Waunakee and played last season for the Chicago Mission program with Mersch, is the son of former Wisconsin winger, Kurt. Cruikshank is the son of famous Olympic speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Dave Cruikshank. Watson, who played at Appleton high school last season, has an older brother who plays for Michigan Tech (Cliff) and another brother (Cooper) who is committed to play for the Huskies down the road.
Also selected from Wisconsin in the Phase I Draft were Davis Bunz (Sioux Falls) and Cole Hults (Madison). Bunz is the son of Gary, who played at Wisconsin from 1984-97 and was teammates with Kurt Semandel and Gary Shuchuk. Bunz's older brother, Jake, played last season in the USHL for Chicago. Hults, who played last season for the Madison Capitols midget major program has an older brother, Mitch, who currently plays in the USHL for the Indiana Ice.
Also of note in the Phase I portion of the draft were the selections of Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro in the last round by the expansion Bloominton Thunder. Wisconsin has shown recruiting interest in both Canadian-born players, and hosted Fabbro for a campus visit in December.
|USHL PHASE I DRAFT -- WISCONSIN BORN PLAYERS|
|PLAYER||CURRENT TEAM||USHL TEAM|
|Grant Cruikshank||Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16||Youngstown Phantoms|
|Jake Nielsen||Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16||Chicago Steel|
|Carver Watson||Appleton HS/Team Wisconsin U16||Sioux City Musketeers|
|Alec Semandel||Chicago Mission U16||Cedar Rapids RoughRiders|
|Davis Bunz||Middleton HS/Team Wisconsin U16||Sioux Falls Stampede|
|Cole Hults||Madison Capitols U18||Madison Capitols|
The Phase II Draft saw a boat-load of Wisconsin-born players picked, as 18 players from the Badger state heard their names called on Tuesday.
The highlights included Notre Dame Academy center Mason Appleton being selected third overall by the Tri-City Storm in the first round. Wisconsin high school player of the year Jake Bresser from Eau Claire Memorial didn't have to wait long either, as he was selected in the second round by the Chicago Steel.
Notre Dame Academy finished with four players chosen, as Luke Davison -- the brother of Wisconsin defenseman, Tim -- was selected by Fargo, and Brett Gruber was picked up by Cedar Rapids the following round. Collin Appleton, the younger brother of Mason, was selected by Fargo. Eau Claire Memorial had two players chosen, as defenseman Chuck Bennis was selected by Fargo in addition to the previously mentioned Bresser.
|USHL PHASE II DRAFT — WISCONSIN-BORN PLAYERS|
|PLAYER||CURRENT TEAM||USHL TEAM|
|Mason Appleton||Notre Dame Academy/Team Wisconsin U18||Tri-City Storm|
|Jake Bresser||Eau Claire Memorial/Team Wisconsin U18||Chicago Steel|
|Alec Broetzman||St. Thomas Academy/Team Wisconsin U16||Cedar Rapids RoughRiders|
|Luke Davison||Notre Dame Academy/Team Wisconsin U18||Fargo Force|
|Brett Gruber||Notre Dame Academy/Team Wisconsin U18||Cedar Rapids RoughRiders|
|Chuck Bennis||Eau Claire Memorial/Team Wisconsin U18||Fargo Force|
|Aaron Miller||Superior/Team Wisconsin U18||Waterloo Black Hawks|
|Charlie Parker||Verona/Team Wisconsin U18||Chicago Steel|
|Collin Appleton||Notre Dame Academy/Team Wisconsin U18||Fargo Force|
|Trenton Bliss||Appleton/Team Wisconsin U16||Green Bay Gamblers|
|Zach Metsa||Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U16||Omaha Lancers|
|Sean Driscoll||Homestead/Team Wisconsin Elite Prep Development||Des Moines Buccaneers|
|Billy Jerry||St. Thomas Academy/Team Wisconsin U16||Madison Capitols|
|Drew Callin||Janesville Jets (NAHL)||Sioux Falls Stampede|
|Alex Falconer||Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep||Muskegon Lumberjacks|
|Cole Paskus||Madison West/Team Wisconsin U16||Sioux City Musketeers|
|Luke McElhenie||Madison Capitols U18||Madison Capitols|
|Mikey Butcher||Madison Capitols U16||Madison Capitols|
|Brendan Gysbers||Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18||Madison Capitols|
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