Being a college freshman is hard. You have classes, you need to find your way around campus and — more often than not — need to learn to cook for yourself. It’s even harder when you’re a Division I athlete juggling practice, games and work. Ty Emberson, Mick Messner and Jack Gorniak are three Wisconsin natives that have finally seen their lifelong dreams of becoming a Badger come to fruition. As they get ready for the start of the season, get to know some of the new faces of Wisconsin hockey.
Emberson is an Eau Claire, Wis., native who was selected 73rd overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. In 61 games with the U.S. National U-18 team, the third-round pick totaled 27 points (four goals, 23 assists), though he takes pride in the defensive aspect of the game and being able to lock down the opposition.
Messner is a former Madison West Regent who was most recently seen as a co-captain for the Madison Capitals of the USHL. The Madison native finished second on the team in points, totaling 45 (16 goals, 29 assists) in 60 games.
Gorniak, Wisconsin’s Mr. Hockey of 2018 from West Salem High School, was selected in the fourth round (123rd overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Gorniak had 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in his senior season for the Panthers. In addition to his eye-popping high school statistics, the 19-year-old forward had 18 goals and 20 assists with Team Wisconsin U-18 this past season.
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Q: What made you decide to come to Wisconsin?
Emberson: It was pretty obvious for me. I’m from Eau Claire, so a home-state kid, and obviously the coaching staff here is unbelievable, they’re second to none. So, I wanted to come here and be able to play under them.
Messner: The coaches, the facilities and the school, obviously. The rink here is unbelievable. And then all the amenities we have in our locker room is second to none.
Gorniak: One big thing was the coaching staff — the coaching staff here is unbelievable: They move guys on to the next level. Also, just the campus itself. It’s the perfect middle between a great school and a great hockey program.
Q: What strengths do you feel you bring to the program?
Emberson: I feel that I bring a solid defensive presence and a puck-moving defenseman. I think I also bring energy on the bench and physical play.
Messner: I think I bring a competitive edge, high compete level and some skill to go with it.
Gorniak: I bring speed, play-making ability and a strong work ethic.
Q: Have you received any advice from upperclassmen, and if so, what’s the best advice you’ve received?
Emberson: Through the summer I’ve heard a lot from upperclassman: just enjoy your time here, it goes by way faster than you’d think. And come in every day like it’s your last, so just battle as hard as you can against the upperclassmen, it’ll make them better in the end.
Gorniak: Yeah, I’ve received a bunch of advice. I’d say the best advice I’ve received is just have fun, be confident. You don’t want to go in there scared, you have to be confident to play at this level so that’s probably the best advice I’ve received.
Q: What’s your favorite pre-game meal?
Emberson: Pre-game meal is always chicken parm.
Messner: Nothing, in particular, I like to switch it up.
Gorniak: I’d have to say salad with French dressing and chicken.
Q: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
Emberson: I play a little tennis game with my roommate K’Andre (Miller). We just play first person to drop three tennis balls loses. Then I always go left before right (Left skate, left glove, left shin pad when getting dressed before games).
Messner: No, I don’t like to have a pre-game ritual because if you mess it up, then you think you might play bad.
Gorniak: I always tie my left skate first, and also just listening to music, too.
Now that you’ve gotten to know some of the new Wisconsin Badgers, look for them on the ice as we get closer to the first exhibition puck-drop on Oct. 7 against the University of Victoria Vikes.