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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Badgers men's hockey signing day brings five recruits onboard

The Wisconsin Badgers signed five new players for the 2024-25 hockey season.

Wisconsin men’s hockey announced they signed two forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender on Nov. 15 for the 2024-25 season.

After losing highly touted prospect Will Skahan to the Boston College Eagles, the Wisconsin Badgers signed forwards Ryan Botterill and Gavin Morrissey, defensemen Logan Hensler and Jack Phelan and goaltender Anton Castro.

Head coach Mike Hastings had high endorsements for each signee, expressing how they all have different strengths.

“They’re two very different players. I think one’s a very good defender who you’re gonna see kill a lot of penalties for us and another one that I think has real power-play upside,” Hastings said about Hensler and Phelan.

“It’s the same thing with the forward group with Botterill, who’s a true left winger and shooter, and Morrissey, who I think is a cerebral centerman and more of a distributor,” he said. “I love the balance of the group.”

Botterill, a 5-foot-11, 176-pound left winger, currently plays for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL. The 20-year-old, who has notched nine goals and eight assists over 18 games this season, is a prolific scorer and should be a great addition to the Badgers.

Botterill played for the Portage Terriers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) for three seasons before skating for the Youngstown Phantoms. Over that period, the winger tallied 55 goals and 33 assists, including a 45 goal and 28 assist season which gave him MJHL First Team All-Star honors. His 45 goals led the league and helped him receive the Frank McKinnon Memorial Trophy for outstanding sportsmanship and play.

Botterill may be paired with Morrissey, a 5-foot-11, 181-pound center. Seeing these two on the ice together could be a dangerous duo for Wisconsin’s opponents.

Morrissey is a pass-first center who plays on USHL’s Fargo Force. He displayed his passing ability last year when he captained the Austin Bruins in the NAHL. As the top-line center on the Bruins, Morrissey chalked up a career-high 44 assists and 61 points in the 2022-23 season.

The gifted passer originally committed to the Minnesota State Mavericks but changed his mind after Hastings moved to the Badgers.

On the defensive front, Hensler is a name you don’t want to miss. His 6-foot-2, 197-pound frame makes him bound for success on the Badgers.

Hensler skates for the U.S. National U18 Team Developmental Program and the USNTDP Juniors which both compete in the USHL. The 17-year-old defenseman has four goals and 13 assists during National and USHL play this season.

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Hensler also helped Team USA win a gold medal in the 2023 U18 Five Nations Tournament in Finland, chipping in with an assist on the game-winning goal in the tournament, according to the University of Wisconsin’s Athletic Website.

The last skill player that signed with the Badgers is Phelan. The 6-foot-2, 171-pound defenseman was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the fifth round during the 2023 NHL Draft. Phelan plans to play another year as captain for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL and then for Wisconsin before playing for the Red Wings.

The 19-year-old only possesses five points to his name through 18 games but isn’t known for his offense. Phelan told Detroit Hockey Now he wants to grow as a player more and develop his skills before trying to become a pro.

Scouts also said he needs to get stronger before he is NHL ready, so playing another year for the Stampede and then for the Badgers should suit him right for the highest level of play.

The final player who signed with the Badgers for the 2024-25 season is Castro, a 6-foot-1, 178-pound goaltender. Through nine games on the Fargo Force this season, the Minnesota native has posted a .897 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against average to help his team to a 7-1-1 record.

Last year, the Fargo Force product had a 2.40 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage through 33 games, helping his team to the playoffs.

Badgers fans should be excited about these new additions as the team continually looks to improve for upcoming seasons.

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