The incoming class consists of two players - Lee and Schultz - who currently play in the British Columbia Hockey League, while the balance of the class, including Meuer, Smith and Barnes, currently skates for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the Unites State Hockey League
"We are really excited about this class," said Eaves. "There is a mix of ingredients that are really important when you are trying to put together a championship team. From the hard, the skill, the vision of the ice and competitiveness, this class has a nice package of all those things."
Lee, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, currently skates for the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League. Through 27 games, the forward currently paces his team with 28 points on six goals and 22 assists. The team sits atop the Coastal Conference - Island Division at the moment.
Lee spent the 2007-08 season as a member of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL, the former team for current Badgers Ben Street and Scott Gudmandson. He led Salmon Arm with 77 points in 52 games last year, posting 21 goals and a team-high 56 assists. He also skated 45 games with Salmon Arm in 2006-07, when he collected 15 goals and 38 points in 45 games played. He also competed for Team B.C. at the 2007 Canada Winter Games and with gold medal-winning Canada West at the 2007 World Junior A Challenge.
Eaves on Lee: "Derek is a very skilled offensive player. He has great vision of the ice and has the innate ability to make the plays that he sees."
Schultz is the lone NHL draft pick among the group. A second-round pick of Anaheim in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Schultz was chosen 43rd overall by the Ducks. Through 20 games this season with the Westside Warriors of the BCHL, Schultz has five goals and 23 points to share second on the team, despite playing in seven fewer games than most of his teammates. The right-handed shot put up nine goals and 40 points in 57 games last season for Westside.
The defenseman skated in the 2008 World Junior A Challenge for Canada West and recorded a pair of assists in four games for the silver medal-winning squad. He won the 2007-08 BCHL Interior Conference Top Defenceman Award and was part of gold medal-winning Canada West at the 2007 World Junior A Challenge along with fellow signee Derek Lee.
Eaves on Schultz: "Justin is a very fine offensive defenseman. We've had a few of them here recently. Much like Derek, when you talk about offensive guys, there are certain adjectives that stay the same. He moves very well, he sees the ice very well and he has the innate ability to make the plays that he sees. He'll be a young man who will provide offense from the blue line."
Meuer's family ties span the Wisconsin Athletic Department as his sisters Molly and Katy Meuer both played women's soccer for the Badgers and his dad, Kelly, played for the Badger men's soccer team. A pair of his uncles, Jeff and Rob Andringa, both skated and won NCAA championships as part of the Wisconsin hockey program.
A Verona, Wis., native, Meuer currently boasts two goals and seven points in 14 games in his third season with Waterloo. He finished the 2007-08 season with two goals and 24 points in 52 games, after skating 29 games with the Black Hawks in 2006-07. During his first season, Meuer had four goals and eight points in 29 games played.
A right-handed shot, Meuer skated for Madison Memorial High School in 2005-06, tallying 38 goals and 69 points in 20 games played. He also skated for Badger 8, scoring 32 goals and 55 points in 32 games. That year, he was a teammate of current Badger forward Patrick Johnson, and was named to the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association all-state team. He also won the Pat Willis Memorial Trophy as the city's most valuable player.
Eaves on Meuer: "Keegan is a heart-and-soul player. He is guy who you want to go into the fox hole with. He'll come to battle every night. He'll give the team energy. He understands what it takes to win and is willing to do whatever he can. He'll bring the hard in bushels and he'll bring the type of energy that is very much a part of a championship team."
Smith signs fresh off a stellar performance at the 2008 World Junior A Challenge. Smith was one of six players named to the tournament all-star team after posting three goals and eight points in five games as team captain. His team won the tournament's gold medal. He also skated in the 2007 World Junior A Challenge for Team USA.
Smith leads Waterloo with seven goals and 14 points in 10 games played, having scored a point in his last seven games and nine of his 10 games this season. In 58 games during the 2007-08 campaign, Smith scored 13 goals and 23 points, before posting two goals and five points in 11 playoff games. He joined the Black Hawks for the 2006-07 season, when he posted eight goals and 19 points in 45 games played. A Madison, Wis., native, Smith skated for Madison La Follette High School
Eaves on Smith: "Craig will fall into the category of a power forward. He is a big lad who can really skate and brings a physical presence to the game, but he also some ability with the puck. His foundation, the way he plays comes from his speed and raw power."
Barnes currently has four goals and 10 points in 13 games for Waterloo to share fourth on the Waterloo Black Hawks. The right-handed shot skated the 2007-08 season with Burnsville High School in Minnesota. In 24 games, Barnes tallied 23 goals and 50 points to lead the team and was one of 10 finalists for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, along with current Badger defenseman Jake Gardiner. He also captained the squad and was named 2008 Associated Press Second-Team All-State. In 2006-07, Barnes scored 29 goals and 54 points in 31 games as Burnsville reached the 2007 Class AA Minnesota State Tournament semifinals. He was chosen to the all-tournament team.
Eaves on Barnes: "Tyler is kind of a hybrid between Derek Lee and Craig Smith. He is a very competitive young man who doesn't shy away from getting physical but he has a nice package of offensive skills. He is one of those guys who have that disease of being able to score. The puck finds him or he takes a shot and it goes in for him but not somebody else, so he brings a nice offensive package along with a real competitive edge."