Isaac Novak is on track to go from intermission entertainment at the Kohl Center to being part of the main attraction.
As a member of Arrowhead Youth Hockey some seven or eight years ago, Novak participated in one of the Bucky's Mighty Mites games for youth hockey players between periods of a University of Wisconsin men's hockey game.
Skip ahead to Tuesday, when Novak, a 14-year-old forward from Sussex, gave Badgers coaches an oral commitment to join the team.
Novak's experiences in Madison — not just that on-ice event, although scoring a goal didn't hurt — gave him the feeling that UW was the place to be, said his father, Jeff Novak.
"I think all that stuff stuck with him," Jeff Novak said Wednesday. "It's just such a fun place to be and a great environment. And then watching the student section rocking, it was like, if you're going to play hockey, this is the place to play."
Isaac Novak has gained attention among players in his age group in recent years, first with the Chicago Fury youth program, then in tournaments with the West Coast Selects team and now with the Syracuse (N.Y.) Nationals organization.
Depending on what happens in the next few years, playing for the Badgers as early as the 2020-21 season could be the closest to home he's played in a while.
Jeff Novak said on Fridays, he goes with his son via airplane to wherever the Nationals bantam major-level team is playing that weekend. During the week, Isaac Novak works out with a trainer in on- and off-ice sessions.
For the last three years, they drove to Chicago to experience what Jeff Novak said was a higher level of youth hockey.
The results have been positive, from what scouts have told Jeff Novak.
"The thing they like about him is his hockey sense and the ability to score from almost any position," he said. "He's been fortunate also to play with some of the top kids. A lot of goals, a lot of assists. He sees the game well."
Isaac Novak gave the Badgers their second oral commitment in as many days. On Monday, 2001-born forward Dylan Holloway of Calgary said he'd join UW as early as 2019.
UW also officially lost a recruit for next season over the weekend when defenseman Philip Nyberg changed his commitment to Connecticut.
Novak, whose brother is a freshman forward at Notre Dame, is only the second from Wisconsin in a pool of 21 commitments secured by the new Badgers coaching staff of Tony Granato, Don Granato and Mark Osiecki in 8½ months on the job. The other was Eau Claire defenseman Ty Emberson of the U.S. Under-17 Team.
A connection between Novak and the other 2002-born player committed to the Badgers is already in place. He and Tanner Latsch were linemates on a West Coast Selects team that won the 2015 World Selects Invite in Latvia.