All-American transfer primed for big impact in first season with UW

Sophomore Jack Berry has a solid freshman season, but will likely back up Hayton this year.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

For Wisconsin men’s hockey, it may be out with the old (goalie) and in with the new.

Matt Jurusik, the team’s full-time starter two seasons ago and starter at the beginning of last year — he ended up splitting time with Berry as the season progressed — decided over the summer to leave Wisconsin to play in the United States Hockey League with the Sioux City Musketeers.

For the young goalie, this decision comes after a relatively disappointing two seasons with the Badgers. In 50 appearances over two years, Jurusik held a .889 save percentage with a 3.53 goals against average. He came into the program as an 18-year-old freshman straight out of the juniors, a late addition after former commit Luke Opilka chose the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League over UW. Jurusik had a promising start to his career, but his progression never fully materialized, as he struggled with injuries and poor play throughout his time at Wisconsin.

Two major factors played into Jurusik’s decision to leave the Badgers. First, sophomore goalie Jack Berry simply outplayed Jurusik last season. Berry is younger than him and would likely get more playing time than Jurusik. The other factor was Kyle Hayton, Wisconsin’s newest graduate transfer. When asked if Hayton had an effect on his decision, Jurusik responded in the affirmative.

“It was a factor,” Jurusik told the Wisconsin State Journal. “There were other factors involved, but that was a big part.”

Hayton, a standout goalie at St. Lawrence University in New York, had a .929 save percentage to go along with a 2.28 goals against average in his senior season with the Saints. He was named Eastern College Athletic Conference Goalie of the Year along with being a semi-finalist for the Mike Richter Award given to the top goalie in the NCAA. Hayton was also a Second-Team All American last year.

Hayton cited the influence of the likes of head coach Tony Granato and associate head coach Mark Osiecki as a motive for the move.

“Obviously the coaching staff was a huge draw,” Hayton told Andy Baggot of uwbadgers.com. “I’ve never met any coaches like these guys. It’s going to be a big year.”

What was a tough choice for Jurusik was ultimately the right move, according Granato.

“I think it’s a decision that’s going to help him in the long run on becoming the goalie that he wants to be and can be. And I understand the decision that he made,” Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal. “If I thought he was doing something wrong, I’d be telling him to stay here, fight through this thing, it’ll be better for you. I can’t say that would be the case.”

The addition of Hayton solidifies what has been widely regarded as a shaky position for the Badgers over the past seasons. For the last two years, Wisconsin was ranked 56th out of 60 teams in Division I college hockey in terms of save percentage. Berry showed flashes of brilliance last year, and has a lot of potential to be a tremendous goalie. Still, Hayton looks to add a positive veteran presence in net and will likely carry the load this season.

So far, Hayton’s potential impact is all speculation, but even in practice, the transfer goalie looks primed for an impressive season.

“He’s a competitor,” Granato said. “He has a track record of being a gamer. He has been looking forward to this for a long time.”

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