Blugolds picked to win WIACUWS men are picked fourth
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the defending NCAA Division III champion, is expected to win the 2014 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s ice hockey championship, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league’s coaches and sports information directors.
This marks the first season that conference teams will compete solely under the banner of the WIAC, after previously being members of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.
The winner of the four-team league tournament following the conclusion of the regular season will be crowned the conference champion.
UWEC picked up eight first-place votes in the league projections. The Blugolds return 17 letterwinners from last year’s squad that set a program record with 24 wins, won the first WIAC crown in program history and claimed the first national title for the conference since the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 2002.
UWS, which possesses a league-high 13 NCAA Division III championship showings and has amassed at least 20 victories in 11 of the last 20 seasons, welcome back 14 letterwinners from a season ago, were picked to finish fourth this season.
Leading the Yellowjackets into the 2013-14 season is senior Pat Dalbec, who is 32 points shy of the 100-point mark for his career. The former Superior Spartans finished second in the WIAC with 27 points in 2013 and has been the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons.
Senior Jeff Forsythe, an AHCA All-America Second Team pick in 2013, was second on the team with 12 assists and third with 18 points. He could become the program’s second four-time All-WIAC first team selection, joining Dale Lupul (2002-05).
Junior transfer goaltender Dayn Belfour, who spent the past two seasons at University of Nebraska-Omaha, is the son of Hockey Hall of Fame member Ed Belfour.
Coach Dan Stauber is beginning his 14th season as head coach of the Yellowjackets with an overall record of 229-100-51.
Other key player returning include senior forward Joey Massingham, (honorable mention in 2012 and 2013); senior defenseman Derek Stauber (honorable mention in 2010, 2011 and 2012); and senior goaltender Drew Strandberg (honorable mention in 2012 and first-team in 2011).
’JACKET JOTTINGS: Superior’s roster also includes Superior’s David Dalbec and Tom Paine. ... The Yellowjackets open the season by hosting St. John’s on Nov. 8 and Concordia-Moorhead on Nov. 9. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m.
WIAC Men’s Hockey
2013-14 Preseason Predictions
1. UW-Eau Claire (8) (24-5-2) 10-2-0
2. UW-Stevens Point (2) (15-11-1) 7-4-1
3. UW-River Falls (13-11-4) 4-5-3
4. UW-Superior (11-14-2) 4-6-2
5. UW-Stout (10-15-2) 2-10-0
( )—First-place votes