Freshman Kunin Shines Bright for Badgers men’s hockey

The Wisconsin Men’s Hockey team fought back from two different two goal deficits Saturday to earn a 4-4 tie and shootout win over the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers ended the weekend 4-8-6 and 1-2-3 in Big Ten play. More importantly, They saw the coming out party for their freshman forward superstar, Luke Kunin.

Kunin recorded four points in Saturday’s draw with one goal and three assists. According to the official website of UW Men’s Hockey, Kunin was the first freshman to put up four points in one game since October of 2007, when Kyle Turris did it in a game against Robert Morris.

Kunin is no stranger to scoring on the Kohl Center ice. The 6-3, 193-pound Chesterfield, Missouri native found the back of the net in the Kohl Center before ever dawning a Badger jersey.

As a member of the USA Hockey U-18 development program he came to Madison as an opponent last year and ripped a wrist shot past Joel Rumpel en route to a 4-1 win for the development team in an exhibition matchup.

With that performance as a sneak peak for  Badger fans, Kunin has lived up to his expectations. This season he leads the Badgers in goals scored with seven goals and is only two points off the team lead in scoring. Grant Besse currently holds that title with a total of seventeen points.

It has been the dynamic duo of Besse and Kunin that has helped the Badgers offense really get going. The two have settled into playing opposite wings on the first line. Cameron Hughes, Seamus Malone  and Adam Rockwood have all seen time on that first line with the two. It would appear to be Hughes job but with the sophomore banged up, Rockwood has stepped in and played very nicely for Wisconsin.

“Me and Luke have been playing together most of the year now, so we kind of know how to read off of one another.” said Besse after the game Saturday. Kunin added that he and Besse get better and better each game.

Head coach Mike Eaves is going to need the two to continue leading the Badgers on the ice as he takes the team deeper into conference play. Eaves says that having Kunin as a leader, despite only being eighteen years old, doesn’t concern him.

“The things that impresses you the most when you speak to him is his maturity. He’s an 18 year old going on 25.” Said Eaves during a press conference Monday, “He is just about getting it done and getting it done the right way. He knows what his goals are in his life, and he just gets it done.”

Kunin is no newcomer when it comes to dealing with adversity, diagnosed with diabetes, he has to stay on top of it if he wants to compete at the level he competes at. He must monitor his blood sugar himself to remain healthy and ready to play. Diabetes has not slowed down this freshman sensation on the ice and especially not off it where Eaves says he really excels. Kunin is receiving a 3.13 GPA and loving the classes he is taking at Wisconsin.

The Badgers, moving forward will need all of their players to perform well, not just Kunin, as they take on a tough Penn State Hockey team in Happy Valley in a weekend series January 15th and 16th.

Sawyer Bock

About Sawyer Bock

Sawyer is a Junior at UW-Madison majoring in Communication Arts and Journalism. He is a beat writer for the UW- Men's Hockey Team. You can catch him on UW-Madison's student radio WSUM where he hosts a sports talk show and broadcasts numerous varieties of Badger sports or on twitter @YoungSawyer_