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Meet Kristian Epperson and other Wisconsin players about to be eligible for NCAA hockey offers | Wisconsin Badgers Hockey

The top prospect from Wisconsin officially entering the NCAA men’s hockey recruiting market on Monday has been studying his options.

But it doesn’t sound like Mequon’s Kristian Epperson is in a hurry to decide where he wants to play after two more years of high school.

The University of Wisconsin is in the mix for the talented left wing who’s about to join the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. A lot of schools can say the same as the Aug. 1 date approaches when they can start making verbal offers to players who are entering 11th grade.

“Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming,” Epperson said. “But you just want to make the right decision and take it slow.”

Things could go slow in recruiting for many of the other Wisconsin players who are entering their junior year in high school. Only Epperson rose to the level of being invited to the NTDP selection camp, the de facto elite tier for an age group each year.

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Epperson, who turned 16 in May, got there thanks to a head-turning two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s PrepSchool. He’s one of the best among his age group peers in puck protection, Shattuck coach Tyler Ruegsegger said, and can unleash an excellent shot.

He scored 76 goals with 111 assists in 106 games over two years with the Minnesota school, leaving some observers to consider him a potential star in the making. Epperson’s growth away from the rink was just as important to Ruegsegger.

“He’s worked really hard the past two years to mature as a player but also as a person and learning how to become a leader in the locker room and navigate some of the challenges that come with that,” Ruegsegger said.

Being away from home made Epperson speed up his personal progress, and being among highly skilled teammates in the Shattuck environment made him understand the only path to higher levels is through putting in extra effort.

He has been working out with pro players at University School of Milwaukee’s rink in the offseason. His skill level will get further tested when he joins the national team program in Plymouth, Michigan, later this summer for the start of a two-year stay.

“It’s crazy to believe it’s actually happening,” Epperson said. “It’s been a goal for me for a long time so to see it come through has been really nice.”

The other Wisconsin prospects rising into the junior class likely won’t be immediate targets for colleges. Here are seven others from Wisconsin who can entertain offers starting Monday:







Rowan White

Goalie Rowan White helped Madison Edgewood get to the WIAA Division 1 state championship game in 2022.


JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL ARCHIVES


Brady Engelkes, F, Middleton

Engelkes was a skilled individual player with good puck skills two years ago who has developed a more well-rounded game of late. He scored twice and had two assists in four games at the USA Hockey Select 17 camp in June.

Brody Dietz, D, Hudson

Slightly undersized for a defenseman (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), Dietz can make up for it with tenacity. He played the last two seasons for former Badgers defenseman Davis Drewiske at Hudson High School but has a closer connection to Minnesota: His father, Cal, is in charge of athletic performance for the Gophers men’s and women’s hockey teams and has worked with US national teams.

How Hudson boys hockey denied Madison Edgewood's state title bid

Vince Kalscheur, F, Middleton

Kalscheur was the last pick in the 2022 United States Hockey League futures draft for the 2006 birth year, by Lincoln. His 6-2 size and potential for growth make him an interesting prospect over the next few seasons.

Eli Novy, D, Pewaukee

A physical presence is high on the list of Novy’s attributes as one of the top defensemen in Wisconsin at his age. He’s a good skater and puck mover who has come up in the Milwaukee Junior Admirals program.

Mason Peapenburg, D, Larsen

Peapenburg came up with the Junior Gamblers program out of Green Bay and now plays for Green Bay Notre Dame and Team Wisconsin. He was drafted by Des Moines in the ninth round of the USHL futures draft. He’ll have to fill into his 6-2 frame — he’s listed at 155 pounds — but he has a few years to do so.

Adam Timm, F, Sand Creek

Tall with an athletic build, Timm hasn’t been drafted by a USHL team but it’s likely he’ll make his way to the top US junior league at some point. He helped Rice Lake win the Division 2 WIAA state championship last season with former Badgers defenseman Josh Engel as coach.

Rowan White, G, Madison

White is one of the top goalies since the 2006 birth year and has been at USA Hockey select camps the last two offseasons, but it’ll take him some time to be ready for the college level. He backed Madison Edgewood’s run to the state championship game in 2022 with a .928 save percentage.

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