Believe it or not, fall hockey is rapidly approaching, and Team Wisconsin releasing its rosters is just another sign that hockey is near.
We covered some of the major changes for Team Wisconsin in our update last week. If you want to save yourself a click, Wisconsin recruits Adam Parsells (Wausau West) and Tony Stillwell (Notre Dame Academy) are returning to high school and will anchor the blue-line for Team Wisconsin U18 this season.
We also reported in last week's update that Team Wisconsin is losing Denver recruit Kevin Conley (Wausau West) and Ohio State recruit Sam McCormick (Notre Dame Academy) to the USHL. Both should be considered major losses offensively for Team Wisconsin.
Since that time, we've also confirmed that Carver Watson (Appleton United) is leaving high school to play in the USHL this season with the Madison Capitols. Watson, a 1998-born defenseman, was originally drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers, but was traded earlier this summer to the Capitols.
One major coup for Team Wisconsin is the return of Sheboygan forward Collin Peters. The Northern Michigan recruit left high school last season to play for the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals, but will return for his senior season to be a focal point of the Team Wisconsin offense.
Peters, who is property of the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL, will be helped out offensively by fellow Jacks' prospect and UMass-Amherst commit Ty Pelton-Byce (Madison Memorial).
Other major contributors expected to provide offense for Team Wisconsin U18 this season include Conner Blanck (Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs), Alec Broetzman (St. Thomas Academy), Collin Appleton (Notre Dame Academy) and Cole Paskus (Madison West).
The biggest concern for the U18 squad, in my opinion, is its lack of depth defensively. Bret Schwengler (Eau Claire Memorial) and Steven Mordini (Baraboo) come up from the U16 team and Jack Andringa obviously has the name recognition as his father, Rob, played for the Badgers and won a national championship in 1990.
One player I felt should have been given a chance at the U18 level is Davis Bunz, the son of Gary Bunz, who played at Wisconsin from 1984-87. Team Wisconsin has traditionally held back prospects like Bunz, similar to what it did with Stillwell last season, to load up the U16 team. In deep U18 years like last season, I don't have a big problem with it, but with a lack of depth defensively this season, I would have liked to see Bunz given an opportunity.
Looking at the U16 roster this season, obviously Bunz will be the focal point on the back-end with Notre Dame Academy transfer Michael Karrow and Sean Driscoll (Homestead) expected to play major roles.
I felt Notre Dame Academy defenseman Jadon Motquin was overlooked last season and a trio of '99-born defensemen in Kellen Tharaldson and Jacob Evans (Wausau West) along with Ian Malcolmson (Waukesha) are intriguing players.
Trenton Bliss (Appleton) will be one of the main offensive threats for the U16 team after a breakout performance at the U.S. Select 16 festival last month. Jacob Thousand (Waunakee) and Jett Jaraczewski (Notre Dame Academy) are two other '98-born forwards to watch on this club.
The '99-born forward class is headlined by Mick Messner (Madison West), Brock Caufield (Stevens Point) and Jordan Steinmetz (Chippewa Falls).
Team Wisconsin U16 is also expected to be very solid between the pipes with Tommy Mohs (Madison Edgewood) and Nathan Cleghorn (Verona). Mohs is considered a nice prospect and returns to high school hockey after spending last season with the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals. Kleghorn had a huge sophomore season for Verona before suffering an injury in February.
One player leaving the Team Wisconsin program for AAA hockey is Phil Erickson from the Regis/McDonell Saints program. Erickson won a national championship with TW U16 last season, but will play full-season U18 this year with the Madison Capitols program.
The Capitols have had some down years recently, but appear to be putting in a bigger effort recently with the return of the Madison Capitols USHL franchise to the city.
In addition to Erickson, the Capitols U18 team has added defenseman Brendon Gysbers from the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals and retained the services of '98-born defenseman Cole Hults of Stoughton, who is a player that is undoubtedly on the radar of the Badgers' coaching staff.
Other uncommitted in-state players of note this season include Jack Vincent and Alec Semandel, who are both scheduled to play for the Chicago Mission this season.
Semandel, a '98-born defenseman, is the son former Wisconsin winger, Kurt, and hails from Waunakee, Wisconsin, but made the move to the Mission last season. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL selected Semandel in the second round of the 2014 Phase I Draft, and Semandel will likely play there after one more season with the Mission.
Vincent, a '98-born forward, is the son of former Wisconsin winger, Ron, who also hails from the Madison area. Vincent played for the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals program last season, but will upgrade to the more high-profile Mission this year.
I touched on the other Badgers' recruits that will be in the USHL next year in the update last week, but two committed players returning to their current teams are Max Zimmer (Wayzata High School) and Dominick Mersch (Chicago Mission U16). Additionally, Zimmer is scheduled to play for Team Northwest in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League before and after the high school season.
Two additional uncommitted players to keep an eye on this season include '99-born Shattuck-St. Mary's forward Charlie Dovorany and '98-born St. Sebastian's forward RJ Murphy. Dovorany hails from Wausau, Wisconsin, and had a huge performance last month at the U.S. Select 15 festival. Murphy is a non-traditional recruit from the East Coast, but has already made an unofficial visit to Madison to check out the campus.
For more hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter -- Follow @AndyJohnsonB5Q
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)