By Mason Lyttle
JANESVILLE, WI – The Janesville Jets, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are pleased to announce that forward Martin Sundberg has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers of the Big Ten Conference.
Sundberg (6’4”/190) opened his first season in North America with points in four consecutive games, including two goals at the league’s 13th annual Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota. The 1996-born Swede adds size and skill to Janesville’s all-Swedish top forward unit, and sees the opportunity to carry his role as a power forward over to the Badgers next season.
“I think I can bring some speed,” said the Linköping native. “I’ll play hard and hit a lot, and hopefully score a lot, too. That’s my game. Lots of speed, play hard, score goals.”
Through six games with the Jets, Sundberg’s five points have indeed come from his unique blend of size, speed, and skill. It was his wealth of abilities that caught the eye of Jets head coach and general manager Joe Dibble on his summer scouting trip in Sweden.
“When you watch a kid like Martin Sundberg, you first notice his physical attributes,” said Dibble, who, in his fourth season in Janesville, has assembled a top line of Swedes in Sundberg, Nils Rygaard, and Adam Winborg. “His speed jumps right out at you. He gets pucks to the net, he runs guys over, and he brings a physical aspect to every team he plays on. He’s a 6’4” kid who can absolutely fly and who shoots the puck like a pro.”
Sundberg’s skill set will certainly be a welcome addition for the Badgers hockey program, which soon will begin its season trying to move past what was a down year for the program in 2014-2015. Sundberg and Dibble alike see the season as merely a hiccup for the traditional powerhouse program.
“It’s one bad year,” Dibble said. “Wisconsin has an unbelievable staff, history, and culture in their program and I’m excited to see that Martin is in their plans for their future. He is going to have the opportunity to earn a degree from a prestigious university and develop as a hockey player in a program that has a history of moving players on to high levels of pro hockey”
“I love the coaching staff,” Sundberg echoed. “It’s a great school, the facilities are amazing, and the academics are awesome.”
The Badgers’ home rink, the Kohl Center, is just a 42-mile drive from the Janesville Ice Arena. That familiar I-90 corridor has sent more than a few Jets northbound for Madison. Sundberg will join former Jets Jason Ford, Alex Shuchuk, and Matt Jurusik at head coach Mike Eaves’ program, a popular and exciting destination for Jets players and fans alike.
“Obviously being in the state of Wisconsin, our fans, our billets, our owners, even our players are all Badger fans,” Dibble explained. “Our boys want to go there, and our fans want to see them in the red and white. These guys that commit to Wisconsin are grinning like they just signed in the NHL.”
Six games in to his North American career, Sundberg finds himself already with a scholarship to a local, prestigious school for both athletics and academics. For a player in the NAHL, a league of opportunity, where is Sundberg’s focus now?
“Winning,” he said simply. “Winning is the goal. The Swedes and I talk about it a lot. The group came close [to winning the Robertson Cup] last year, and I think we have what it takes to do it this year.”
“Success breeds success,” he said. “If you’re winning hockey games, more scouts will come watch your games. We work hard to build that culture here. Kids know they can come to Janesville to win hockey games and get scholarships.”
Sundberg is the fourth player of the 2015-2016 Jets to commit to a Division I program, joining Kip Hoffmann (Alaska Anchorage), Michael Maloney (Brown), and Jack Gates (Colorado College).
— JANESVILLE JETS —