Former Madison Memorial standout Ty Pelton-Byce transfers to Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team
One of the pictures that decorates the hallway between the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey locker room and the Kohl Center ice is of particular interest to the newest member of the Badgers.
On their way to the rink, the Badgers pass a photo of John Byce holding the 1990 NCAA championship trophy.
“I’ve seen that a few times,” his son, Ty Pelton-Byce said. “Obviously, it’s awesome to be part of a legacy like that.”
After playing two seasons at Harvard, Pelton-Byce is transferring to UW. He’ll practice with the Badgers for the rest of the season and have two years of eligibility remaining starting next fall.
Pelton-Byce, a former Madison Memorial standout forward, was academically ineligible at Harvard last fall and returned home to Madison to weigh his next move. He took classes at Madison College and finished a two-year degree last month to be admitted to UW.
“Throughout this fall semester, I just started to realize more and more that this is where I wanted to be,” said Pelton-Byce, 21. “Growing up in this community, I know how close-knit it is. I love living here. And I just finally decided it’s going to be the right place for me to be.”
Pelton-Byce, who will wear No. 27 with the Badgers, won the Joe Pavelski Award as Wisconsin’s top high school forward as a senior in 2015. He also was a finalist for the state player of the year award and was the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Boys Player of the Year and Madison’s All-City player of the year.
He finished his Memorial career with 117 goals in 102 games, then scored 15 times in 60 games in one season with the United States Hockey League’s Des Moines Buccaneers.
After being released from a National Letter of Intent signed with UMass after the Minutemen fired coach John Micheletto, Pelton-Byce enrolled at Harvard in 2016.
He appeared in the Frozen Four in his freshman season, playing an energy role on a talented team instead of being a scorer. As a sophomore, he emerged as more of a scoring threat, netting 10 goals in 33 games.
Pelton-Byce, who took part in the San Jose Sharks’ development camp last summer, said he recently discussed his plans with Crimson coach Ted Donato.
“He was really supportive,” Pelton-Byce said. “He’s always wanted the best for me. I have so much respect for him. He’s a great coach.
“He told me that he was disappointed that I wouldn’t be returning. I think he really liked me as a player and as a person. But after I explained everything to him, he understood and he wished me well the rest of my career. And I wished him the best of luck for them for the following years.”
The Badgers have four forwards who are likely NHL draft picks already signed to be part of next year’s incoming class, so Pelton-Byce’s role is uncertain. He has played center and wing, and the Badgers will use the rest of the season to see where he’ll fit best.
UW coach Tony Granato said the addition of a skilled offensive player who has close ties to the program is exciting.
“He’s one of those kids you love having join your program because it means something different to him than someone that’s not been around it,” Granato said. “I think it’ll be a really nice fit.”
John Byce recorded 165 points in 169 games from 1986 to 1990 for the Badgers, finishing with a hat trick in the national championship game against Colgate. He then joined the NHL’s Boston Bruins for a playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Pelton-Byce’s mom, Alicia Pelton, is a former professional basketball player who’s a member of the Janesville Sports Hall of Fame. She heads the Madison organization Athletic Leadership Alliance.
There’s a lot of athletic success to live up to in Pelton-Byce’s household, and he’ll be reminded of some of it every time he walks to the Kohl Center ice.
“I don’t want to be just be John Byce’s son; I want to be my own player,” Pelton-Byce said. “But it’s definitely pretty cool to be part of that legacy.”