A good weekend for the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team got better with another addition to the recruiting rolls.

Minnesota center Ben Almquist gave Badgers coaches an oral commitment after attending Saturday's 5-1 victory over Michigan State, which completed the team's first Big Ten Conference series sweep in its last 23 tries.

6-foot and 170 pounds, Almquist is a junior at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, Minnesota, and shares the Fire team lead with 17 points in 12 games.

What he saw from the Badgers on Saturday was something he wanted to be part of in a few years.

"I honestly loved it," said Almquist, 17. "I loved the way they moved the puck, the way they spaced guys out. Everyone had good hands. Everyone was patient and confident with the puck. I loved the way they used their speed and they worked with each other. I just thought it was great."

Almquist is the 28th player known to be committed to the Badgers for future seasons. Twenty-one of them have come on board since the new staff of head coach Tony Granato and associate head coaches Mark Osiecki and Don Granato were hired in March.

The reputation for producing successful players enjoyed by the Badgers coaches was a factor in Almquist's commitment, he said.

He had talked with other schools but said Wisconsin was a no-brainer.

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"I really liked the coaching staff," Almquist said. "I met with them and I just thought they were great guys. They have a lot of knowledge. They know a lot about hockey."

Almquist's sister, Sarah, is a student at UW, and he's spent a good amount of time in Madison.

"I liked everything about the facilities they had," he said. "It's always been a goal of mine to go play at Wisconsin. It was an easy decision."

Almquist could join the Badgers as early as the 2018-19 season but also could spend some time in junior hockey first. He said he's unsure on whether he'll play for Holy Family as a senior next year or go to a junior league.

Before this prep season, he led the Minnesota Blades Under-18 Midget Major team with 20 goals and 45 points in 23 games.

He was named the Star Tribune's prep athlete of the week for boys hockey on Nov. 28 after he had a goal and an assist in both of Holy Family's victories over Edina and Maple Grove.

A crafty center with good hands, Almquist said he's happy to set things up for his wingers.

"I like being the guy who makes the decisions with the puck so you can control the ice," he said.


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