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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Many changes for Badger hockey

When the Wisconsin men's hockey team takes the ice for the 2001-'02 season, there will be one name that Badger fans will not see.  




Forward Dany Heatley, now with the National Hockey League's Atlanta Thrashers, will take his 23 goals and 55 points with him to the professional ranks. 




However, the cupboard is not completely bare for Head Coach Jeff Sauer's offense as the Badgers return seven seniors who, combined, have logged more than 700 collegiate games played. 




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Led by captain Andy Wheeler, Wisconsin may have more quality depth on offense. Unlike years past, the depth should force opponents to focus their attention on two or three lines, rather than just the top-scoring line, formerly led by Heatley. 




'Heatley's a loss for us, no question about it offensively,' Sauer said. 'He scored a lot of goals for us. The big thing is with all the experience we have, the guys know he's gone and they have to step it up. I'm not looking for one guy to take Dany's place. What I am looking for is six or seven guys to score 10 goals. That takes [Heatley's] place.' 




In addition to Wheeler, seniors Matt Murray and Kent Davyduke return as the leading scorers for UW with 29 points each. Along with classmates Matt Hussey, Matt Doman and David Hukalo, the Badgers have one of the more experienced offenses in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association 




An added offensive threat could be junior forward Brad Winchester. After a solid freshman campaign, the 6'5\ center struggled for most of the season and finished with only nine goals and 16 assists. A rebound by Winchester could give the Badgers an added offensive boost and another large body for opposing teams to match up against. 




Defensively, UW is young, but talented. 




Rob Vega is the lone senior on the defense. Named the 2001 Most Improved Player, Vega joins juniors Brian Fahey and Mark Jackson as the upperclassmen for the defense. 




Sophomore defenseman Dan Boeser, who finished with the most points by a rookie defenseman last season, gives UW a little added scoring punch from the blue line. 




Newcomers Joe Campbell and Andy Wozniewski should give the defense some much-needed size and flexibility for Sauer. 




'We've got some talent back there, we've got some players who will see some playing time,' Sauer said. 




The biggest question mark for Sauer is the goaltending situation. With the loss of four-year starter Graham Melanson to graduation, the Badgers will start a goaltender with little or no experience in college hockey. 




Junior goaltender Scott Kabatoff is the early favorite for the job. However, freshman Bernd Bruckler is expected to see some playing time throughout the year. Bruckler played for Tri-City of the United States Hockey League last winter after joining the team from Graz, Austria.  




While both goalies will probably get playing time, Sauer would prefer to have one of them step to the forefront. 




'Goaltending-wise, I would like nothing better than to have to make a choice,' Sauer said.  




The schedule for the Badgers will not offer any easy weekends, as Wisconsin plays eight games against all four teams that played in the NCAA Frozen Four a year ago.

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