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Wisconsin coaches' reputation for talent development lands commitment from defenseman Joe Palodichuk

Wisconsin coaches' reputation for talent development lands commitment from defenseman Joe Palodichuk


The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team was the first to make defenseman Joe Palodichuk a recruiting offer.

But it's not necessarily true that the Badgers won the 15-year-old Minnesotan's commitment by being quick on the draw, according to his father.

Adam Palodichuk said his son and his family did their research and had a good deal of discussion between the Badgers' offer last Tuesday and the acceptance and announcement that came over the weekend.

"At the end of the day, you're not getting recruited by Wisconsin as much as you're getting recruited by the coaching staff," Adam Palodichuk said. "My son's a defenseman, and I don't think there's two better mentors out there than (Badgers associate head coaches) Mark and Mark, Osiecki and Strobel. They're just highly regarded guys of developing talent.

"And (head coach) Tony Granato, from what I understand and my brief introduction to him a couple of times, great guy and just a genuine person. So we were really sold on the fact that, look, a lot can happen between now and three years from now. That's obvious, on both sides. But from the school standpoint to the coaching staff standpoint ... the quality people that represent Wisconsin is what sold us to commit this early and be happy with it."

Joe Palodichuk, from Cottage Grove, Minnesota, is the third member of the corps of UW recruits who has ties to Hill-Murray School in the Twin Cities suburb of Maplewood. Forward Ben Helgeson was a captain last season for the Pioneers, while forward Nick Pierre played for the team as an eighth-grader.

Strobel, who's entering his second season on the Badgers' coaching staff, is a Hill-Murray alumnus.

Palodichuk was a freshman last year but played only junior varsity. Still, he was one of 217 players at the 2018 USA Hockey Boys Select 15 Player Development Camp in July. He didn't record a point in four games at the heavily scouted event in Amherst, New York.

With the Great Plains Hockey Bantam Major team last August and September, he scored twice with 12 assists in 24 games. He also played in the World Selects Invitational in Philadelphia in May.

With three more years left in high school, the earliest Palodichuk could join the Badgers is the 2021-22 season.

Listed at 5-9 3/4 and 144 pounds at the Select 15 camp, Palodichuk is entering only his second season as a full-time defenseman.

Adam Palodichuk said his son's hockey IQ captured attention from a few teams.

"If I had to guess, what really intrigued Wisconsin in particular is just that everybody's looking for that first-pass defenseman who can get pucks out quick, efficiently," Adam Palodichuk said. "And he's got the ability to do that. I think what intrigued Osiecki more than anybody is the rawness. 'This kid's only played this position exclusively for a year. Where's the ceiling? Once we get our hooks in him, what can we do to really get him to the next level?'"

Joe Palodichuk spent four days in Madison earlier this month as a participant in the Badgers' high school camp.

He joined defenseman Corson Ceuelemans and forward Caden Brown among players born in 2003 who have given the Badgers a commitment. In all, 27 players are known to have pledged to join UW in future seasons.

By NCAA rule, UW coaches aren't allowed to discuss prospects who haven't signed a National Letter of Intent, which customarily happens the year before joining the team.

But the development had to be welcome for Granato and his staff, who earlier last week lost one of the team's prized recruits for the upcoming season.

The Badgers granted wing Sampo Ranta's request to be released from his letter of intent, and it was reported that he committed to Minnesota.

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