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Labate gives verbal to University of Wisconsin

by Mike G. Morreale
Highly touted senior center Joseph LaBate of Holy Angels Academy in Minnesota gave a verbal commitment to continue his career at the University of Wisconsin next fall.

LaBate, who turned down scholarship offers from Nebraska-Omaha, Maine, RPI, Bemidji State and Minnesota State, made his decision on March 4. He produced 29 goals, 52 points and a plus-27 rating for the Stars this season and notched a pair of goals in a 4-3 loss to Prior Lake in the quarterfinal round of the Section AA state tournament last month. According to, Labate cancelled visits to North Dakota and Minnesota.

"I just loved my visit to (Wisconsin)," Labate told "I had a really good feeling."

LaBate is NHL Central Scouting's fourth-rated scholastic player (No. 60 overall) among North American skaters, meaning he's projected to be drafted between the second and fourth round of the Entry Draft slated for St. Paul, Minn., on June 24-25.

Labate, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound forward, is a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, which will be announced March 13 at the Grand Ballroom at RiverCentre.

"He's a big kid but he's not even peaked how strong he can be," Central Scouting's Jack Barzee told "He has unbelievable skill, he's a great skater and good hands. He can shoot the puck and he's unselfish."

The next big scholastic name preparing to make his collegiate decision is the nation's top-rated high school player, Wayzata left wing Mario Lucia. Lucia, rated No. 30 by Central Scouting, is the son of current Minnesota U. hockey coach, Don. He told that he has narrowed his choices to Notre Dame, Colorado and Minnesota.

The 6-2, 185-pound Lucia led the Trojans with 29 goals while finishing with 53 points this season.
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