Looking to reinvigorate the Wisconsin hockey program, Tony Granato has already made a statement without coaching a game.
Assembling a dream team coaching staff with his brother, former U.S. National Development Team coach Don Granato, and former UW assistant/Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki, the first-year head coach and his staff have added 11 commits in rapid succession.
With the staff coming together in March, their tone is clear: they want skilled, tough players to lead the team for the future. BadgerNation gives a snapshot of those players who have pledged their commitment to the program.
Ty Emberson - Getting a commitment from the top player in the state, Emberson (Eau Claire Memorial) has totaled 49 points in 46 games in his high school career. He will spend this upcoming season with the U.S. National Development Team program.
Joshua Ess - A strong left-hander who totaled 56 points in 70 games for Lakeville (MN) South, Ess was drafted by the USHL’s Cedar Rapids and will play there before joining the Badgers.
“It feels great,” he said. “Feels great to know I made my coaches, trainers and most importantly my family proud. Wisconsin has a great program, and I really like the new staff they brought in. When I saw the facilities, campus and met the coaches I knew it was the place for me."
Christian Krygier – A reliable, strong lefty for Little Caesars 16U, Krygier, Krygier comes from Novi (MI) and signed a tender with the USHL's Lincoln Stars for the 2016-17.
Mathieu De St. Phalle – A 16U player out of the Chicago Mission youth hockey club, one of the top programs in the country, De St. Phalle prides himself on having the combination of speed and hands, which pushes him to be Wisconsin's next big time playmaker. He had 21 points on 23 games for the Mission and was drafted in the fourth round of USHL draft by Sioux City.
"The campus and facilities are amazing,” he said. “The coaching is second to none without a doubt. It's a phenomenal school and very difficult to get into. I immediately fell in love with the culture of the students and the city of Madison."
TJ Koufis - Koufis is a banger. At 5-11 and 176 pounds, Koufis plays physical, smart and tough, three things he prides himself on. Another player on the 16U Chicago Mission, Koufis marked just over one point a game in the 2015-2016 season.
"I was really comfortable with all the coaches, and liked their plan to make Wisconsin a top team," Koufis said. "I also feel the coaches will really help me develop my game so I can achieve all my hockey goals. I committed before my teammates did and it worked out well that we all ended up at same place. Madison is also a very nice town, and even without hockey it would be a great school for me."
Cole Krygier - Cole plays against his twin brother, fellow Wisconsin commit Christian, which motivates him on a constant basis. Cole plays for Compuware 16U and will play with his brother on the USHL's Lincoln Stars. He and his brother are set to join the program in 2018-19.
"After seeing the campus with my family and brother, we both knew it was the place for us,” Cole said. “We loved that academic side of things because that will take us very far in life. Also the new coaching staff is awesome. They're mostly alumni so they understand what it means to be at Wisconsin, and they will do nothing halfway, everything to the full. Something that sticks out to me at Wisconsin is that I get to play with my brother and that is a brother’s dream."
Owen Lindmark - Another one of those top tier Chicago Mission 16U players, Lindmark is a self-described two way forward, finishing last season with 28 points in 20 games.
"Wisconsin was the right choice for me because the campus is beautiful and I feel like I am at home when I'm there,” Lindmark said. “The biggest upside I saw in Wisconsin was the developmental aspect. They have amazing coaches and top notch facilities, plus they are going to be very good for a very long time."
Sampo Ranta - Ranta is a talented left winger from Naantali, Finland. Currently plays for his USHL team in Sioux City, Ranta has totaled 29 points in only 19 goals played, which quickly caught the eyes of scouts, including Tony Granato.
"Last year I played for Ec Red bull Salzburg and I had coaches from America,” Ranta said. “They told me great things about Wisconsin. I visited few colleges during the season and I had chance to visit Wisconsin this summer. When I saw the facilities and met the great coaching staff I knew that Wisconsin is the place where I want to play and develop my game."
Sam Stevens - While Stevens only weights around 175 pounds, his knack for creating scoring chances is impeccable. After playing for the Chicago Mission, Stevens played for Shattuck St. Mary's in Minnesota, where he registered 24 goals and 28 assists in 53 games.
"I went to visit after my camp at Chicago Steel and I loved the feel of the rink and campus,” he said. “I really knew it was gonna be tough to beat, and then when I got home I researched the academics and realized they were top notch. Then in the summer I was lucky enough to be on a team coached by Don Granato. I really think they are best in country and can develop me into a great player."
Alex Turcotte - Every class has its gem, and the Badgers think they found theirs in Turcotte – a top-flight forward out of Walled Lake, Michigan. Turcotte had 33 points in 18 games for Chicago Young Americans and will play this upcoming season with the Chicago Mission 16U.
"Wisconsin was the best place for me because I felt at home there,” he said. “The campus is awesome, the facilities are great, and the coaches are some of the best coaches you can find. They're great people off the ice too, and really made me feel comfortable there."
Editor's Note: The first edition of this story included a quote that was incorrectly attributed to Ty Emberson. We apologize for the error.