The former recruiting classes of former Wisconsin men’s hockey coach, Mike Eaves, are finally starting to make headlines on the biggest stage as sophomore Luke Kunin earned his second Big Ten Star of the Week honor of the season Tuesday. The award came after Kunin’s three points, two goals and one assist led the Badgers to a 7-4 win Saturday over Michigan University and an unfortunate 4-1 loss on Sunday.
The sophomore has been one of the most dominant forces in the Big Ten this season, getting his first Big Ten Star of the Week award for his five-point effort in a weekend sweep of Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University. Despite an almost equally as impressive freshman campaign, Kunin has really flourished this season under the direction of new head coach Tony Granato, playing more aggressive and finishing more of his opportunities.
The 15th overall pick in the 2016 early NHL Draft to the Minnesota Wild has seen stark rises in efficiency this season, going from .145 shot percentage to .186, best on the team, and currently sitting only seven goals behind his season totals from last year. While Kunin is two points behind senior Grant Besse, the sophomore is the team leader in goals at 11 and an emerging star in a program that seems to be returning to its former glory.
The performance and award couldn’t have come at a better time for Kunin or the team as Michigan was the first conference series for Wisconsin and, if he can produce at an all-conference level against a dominant Wolverine front, then there is no reason to expect he won’t do it against other Big Ten teams going forward.
The Badgers, once again, play one of the toughest schedules in college hockey this year with three teams in conference ranked in the NCAA top 12 and all three of those teams, Ohio State University, Minnesota University and Penn State University, facing Wisconsin in the final three weekends of the year. UW will need every bit of scoring to return to the top of the conference for the first time since 2013 and Kunin is the largest part of that cog.