Ryan Wagner with the University of Wisconsin (photo courtesy of Greg Anderson)
For USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program alum Ryan Wagner, choosing to go to Wisconsin wasn’t that difficult.
In addition to valuing the program’s history and record, Wagner has 15 aunts and uncles and 63 cousins on his mother’s side of the family — enough to make them rent out a gymnasium for Thanksgiving and Christmas events — so being close to home is important. Madison is about a three-hour drive from Chicago, and Wagner almost always has a family member at every home game for the Badgers.
Before his commitment to Wisconsin, Wagner was stationed in Ann Arbor as a member of the 2013-14 U18s team, making an appearance in 49 games and tallying six goals and seven assists for 13 points.
Now a senior forward and alternate captain at Wisconsin majoring in Community and Nonprofit Leadership, Wagner has served four years with the red and white, playing in 117 games for the Badgers. Out of those 117 games, one that stands out the most is his first — a sold out home game at Kohl Center against North Dakota. Still today, that series remains as one of his favorites.
“North Dakota or Minnesota are definitely my top two series so far,” Wagner said. “But the Big Ten is kind of growing right now so we’re playing those teams a lot more, so those games are getting a little bit more rivalry-like.”
So far, Wagner has a career total of 26 goals and 38 assists. He’s had 10 multi-point games, four of which featured double goals. This year, he’s scored five goals in 10 games with a two-goal game against St. Lawrence.
The Badgers had a 20-15-1 overall record last year and made a run in the Big Ten Tournament, defeating Ohio State 2-1 before falling to eventual tournament champions Penn State in a 2-1, double overtime loss.
Last season, the Badgers had a strong line of NTDP alumni among their ranks, with Wagner, Luke Kunin — who is now with the Minnesota Wild — Trent Frederic, and J.D. Greenway. This year, even more NTDP players have made their way into Wisconsin’s ranks.
Ryan Wagner with the U18s in 2013-14
“It’s awesome,” Wagner said. “I was an 18 when Kunin was a 17, so I got to spend an extra year with Kunin than I did (Frederic), but it’s just awesome. The (National Team Development Program) does a great job in preparing kids so when they actually do come to college, it’s not that big of a jump. But it’s been very special, I’m fortunate enough to play with those guys. Last year we added Trent and J.D. Greenway, and this year we added Tyler Inamoto and Sean Dhooghe. It’s always cool playing with guys that came from the same team as you.”
Last weekend, Wagner and the rest of the Badgers tied second-ranked North Dakota, 2-2, putting them at the No. 7 spot in Division I ice hockey. Wisconsin will go into Big Ten conference play next week ranked higher than both of its next two opponents — Michigan State and Michigan — and it looks like Wagner will be a part of continuing that valued program history that made him commit to Wisconsin in the first place.
Tag(s): News Collector