Dream comes true for Turnbull

Badger men's hockey team lands standout center from Duluth East for the class of 2008

The opportunity Josh Turnbull had been yearning for became a reality Friday, and the standout center on the Duluth (Minn.) East hockey team pounced on it.

When did the University of Wisconsin offer Turnbull, a junior who is a class of 2008 prospect, a scholarship?

"That came about Friday at three o'clock," Turnbull said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

It did not take him long to commit.

"Ever since I was three years old I've dreamed of playing for the Badgers," Turnbull said excitedly. "When I first started out I didn't think any of that was possible. But as I got going I found that some schools were interested in me. As soon as (Wisconsin) offered, I took up their offer."

"I don't think it was a real difficult decision," Duluth East coach Mike Randolph said, in a separate telephone interview Tuesday night, "having been from Wisconsin and following the Badgers I'm sure in his youth. In our conversations we could tell that was the place he wanted to play after high school. He's very excited about his decision and about the opportunity to play there."

According to Randolph, Turnbull (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) will remind Badger fans of the two Duluth East products on this year's national championship team.

"He's been a great player," Randolph said. "Very skilled. He's a combination of Ross Carlson and Nick Licari

"He's like Ross, very skilled like Ross. And I think he's got a little attitude like Nick had. Pretty physical. Kind of nasty at times. A pretty complete player."

Turnbull has another Greyhound-to-Badger connection to draw from — one much closer to home. Andy Wheeler, a former player at Duluth East and Wisconsin, just finished his first year as an assistant coach at Duluth East. While he did talk to Wheeler about Madison and his college decision, Turnbull's mind had already been made up. He just needed an offer, and he would giddily become a Badger.

"I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to go to Wisconsin the whole time," Turnbull said.

Turnbull was born and raised in Hayward, Wis., a community of about 5,000 people about 290 miles north of Madison and about 80 miles southeast of Duluth.

As a freshman at Hayward High School, Turnbull tallied 49 points. The following summer he transferred to Duluth East, but had to sit out 13 regular season games as a result. Turnbull's family still resides in Hayward, while he lives with the family of one of his Duluth East teammates.

Turnbull ended up with 21 points as a sophomore, he said, and the Greyhounds finished third in the AA state tournament.

This year Turnbull contributed 50 points in 25 games.

"My style is more of a creative, up-and-down, hard work, with the flow, quick puck movement… I put myself in positions to score goals," Turnbull said. "I have in the past put up big numbers and I think that's what Wisconsin likes. They need guys that will put up big numbers. And I feel I will be able to do that."

Turnbull will complete his high school career at Duluth East, then play a year of juniors in the United State Hockey League before arriving at Wisconsin in the fall of 2008.

"Preferably I do want to play juniors because the USHL is such a tremendous league," Turnbull said. "It would just increase my… skill level… tremendously. And I'm going to need that trying to step in and play starting in '08."

Prior to receiving his Wisconsin scholarship offer, Turnbull had already received offers from Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and Mankato.

"My whole life I just really wanted to be a Badger," Turnbull said.

Wisconsin men's hockey program depth

Badger Nation Top Stories