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Friday, May 24, 2024
Wisconsin Ohio Men's Hockey 3/10 2

Badgers goalie Kyle McClellan signs with semi-pro club Iowa Wild

McClellan’s void will be hard to fill after he contributed so much to the Badgers this year.

The American Hockey League (AHL) club Iowa Wild signed Wisconsin Badgers hockey goaltender Kyle McClellan to an amateur try-out contract, Iowa Wild General Manager Mike Murray announced on April 8. 

In addition, the Wild signed McClellan to a one-year, one-way AHL contract for the 2024-25 season. The AHL is a professional ice hockey league and the primary development league for the National Hockey League (NHL). 

McClellan finished the year with 953 saves in 37 games played and a .931 save percentage, the latter of which tied for the best in the country. McClellan also finished second in the NCAA with 1.94 goals against average, ending the year with seven shutouts. Although the Badgers couldn't get the job done against Quinnipiac in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament, McClellan managed to save 29 shots, compared to the Badgers’ 20 total shots against Quinnipiac. 

McClellan was also the first Badger to be awarded the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year award, which the Big Ten Conference announced earlier in March. 

McClellan finished his collegiate career with a record of 41-35-3, a .926 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average as he moves on to play with the Wild this coming season.

Badgers freshman goalie William Gramme could potentially take the starting goaltender position this coming season in McClellan’s absence. Gramme started in three games this past season and made 25 saves, resulting in a 5-0 debut win against Alaska Anchorage in November. Gramme finished the year with 94 saves made, a .959 save percentage and 1.13 goals allowed on average. 

Gramme put up some impressive numbers playing in just four games, but McClellan’s stats this past season are one of the main reasons why he won the Mike Richter award, which was announced last week by the NCAA.

There is much hope for Gramme if he were to start during the 2024-25 season, given McClellan appeared in just 15 games his junior season with stats nowhere near as impressive as his senior year. With the exposure to competitive collegiate hockey in a conference as formidable as the Big Ten, Gramme could no doubt continue to improve with experience. However, every year is unpredictable, and there is no telling who will take the starting position this year. 

Ending a collegiate career on a first round exit in the NCAA playoffs isn’t ideal, but McClellan’s two NCAA awards in one year and nation-leading save percentage is nothing short of exceptional.

“With the journey that I’ve had, I’ve hit almost every level of play. It’s not a rush to get where you are; just keep working for it,” McClellan said after winning the Mike Richter award.

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