Today's Instant Impact entry features Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles.
Joey Benik, SCSU
Blake Tatchell, UAA
Hunter Fejes, CC
Nic Kerdiles, F, Wisconsin
Vitals: 6'2" - 201 lbs - 1/11/1994
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Previous Team: USA Hockey NTDP Under-18
The Wisconsin Badgers of 2012-13 will be without the services of two blueline regulars in Eric Springer and the All-Everything Justin Schultz, but they return all but one offensive scoring point generated by their forwards (a Jason Clark assist) as well as their full stable of netminders. They will certainly miss the offensive production provided by Schultz, but a young and talented group of forwards will seek to lift the Badgers back into the top half of the WCHA standings. Mark Zengerle, who is the WCHA's top returning point producer (13G, 37A), Michael Mersch, and Tyler Barnes are among the key returnees upfront.
Though Wisconsin returns the bulk of their offense, only three conference teams (BSU, MSU-M, and UAA) scored fewer total goals than Wisconsin did last year. So for a team that finished in the bottom third of the league in scoring and whose leading goal scorer was a defenseman (Schultz with 16), the Badgers could use a high-end incoming freshman winger like Nic Kerdiles to provide additional offensive firepower.
Kerdiles is a native Californian who spent the past two seasons playing for the US National Team Development Program. In 2010-11 he played 40 games for the Under-17 team, producing 17 goals and 10 assists while also seeing action in 20 games with the Under-18 squad (3G, 7A). During the 2011-12 season, Nic took over as the top offensive threat for the Under-18 team. In 54 games he led the team in goals (22), assists (26), points (48), and power play goals (7). He was also Team USA's leading point producer at the Under-18 World Championships this past April, producing four goals and five assists in six games in leading the undefeated American squad to the gold medal.
Kerdiles possesses great size and strength and according to his NTDP coach Danton Cole, he "is a very strong skater and a gifted goal scorer. He has excellent strength down low and is willing to go into the hard areas to score goals." Cole also points out that Kerdiles brings more than just offense to the ice, stating that "he worked hard to also become a good two way player. His speed and tenacity make him a player that has the ability to influence the game on offense and defense." Cole went on to add that Kerdiles "tends to find the net in big situations and under pressure. In almost every one of our comebacks in the past two years, Nic was involved. He can take a game over that way."
Kerdiles just might be the WCHA's top incoming recruit this season, and he should immediately fill a top six (if not top line) role for Wisconsin. He has the physical tools to handle the NCAA game, and as Cole stated, "he is a mature young man that has been through a lot of tough situations and pressure for two years. The guys that are able to handle it here and excel like Nic has do very well at the next level."