Badgers men's hockey team lands graduate transfer goalie from Michigan Tech
When goaltender Robbie Beydoun put his name in the NCAA transfer portal within days of the rest of the hockey season being canceled on March 12, one of the first schools he heard from was the University of Wisconsin.
The Badgers already were set to have three goalies on their roster next season — junior Daniel Lebedeff and incoming freshmen Cameron Rowe and Ben Garrity — so their quick interest was eye-opening.
Beydoun apparently will make it four. After playing three seasons at Michigan Tech, he said Saturday that he'll be a graduate transfer for the Badgers in 2020-21.
"I could just tell right away that they showed so much interest to me and they really thought I'd be a great fit," Beydoun said.
Beydoun, who will turn 24 on Oct. 1, was used sparingly in his time at Michigan Tech, appearing in only 28 of the Huskies' 121 games over the last three seasons. He had a .919 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average with three shutouts.
His move to the Badgers adds another wrinkle to a goaltending position that has seen a good amount of turbulence in the last five seasons.
In the 2015 offseason, incoming freshman Luke Opilka backed out on joining UW to sign with a major junior team. Matt Jurusik came in as a late addition, playing the last season of the Mike Eaves era in 2015-16 and the first year under Tony Granato.
UW brought in All-American Kyle Hayton as a one-season graduate transfer from St. Lawrence in 2017, prompting Jurusik to leave the Badgers. He eventually transferred to Michigan Tech, where he played ahead of Beydoun the last two seasons.
"It's funny how it works out," Beydoun said. "We're kind of trading positions, I guess."
Hayton couldn't hold onto the starting role in the second half of the 2017-18 season; Jack Berry shared time.
Lebedeff played most of the games as a freshman in 2018-19, and the Badgers set him up to be in the No. 1 role last season but Berry got the start in the last three games.
Beydoun said he didn't speak with Badgers coaches in specifics about the other goalies expected to be on the roster next season. But with only one year left to play collegiately, he had to see a chance to play for UW to choose it as his destination.
"That's all you can ask for as a goalie, just an opportunity to come in somewhere and show them what you've got," he said. "I just saw the opportunity. I feel like I can come in and contribute right away. And I believe they know I can do that as well. Regardless of what goalies are there, I'm definitely looking forward to working with those guys and making those guys better and building a good goalie relationship with them."
Lebedeff has started 51 of 73 UW games over the past two seasons. In 55 total appearances, he has subpar statistics — a .892 save percentage and a 3.49 goals-against average.
Rowe, a former USA Hockey National Team Development Program player, was in the middle of the pack in the United States Hockey League with a .899 save percentage for the Des Moines Buccaneers. His 3.52 goals-against average was near the bottom of the league among qualified goalies.
Garrity, who, like Rowe, signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Badgers next season, was projected as a reserve after a stint with Minot of the Tier 2 North American Hockey League.
There has been no indication that any of the three has changed plans for next season.
Beydoun is graduating from Michigan Tech in three years with a degree in Management Information Systems, which made him eligible to transfer without having to sit out a year.
He's applying to study for a master's degree in either business analytics or data analytics and said his goal is to follow his playing career by working in hockey analytics.
Around 15 teams — one-quarter of NCAA Division I hockey — reached out after he put his name in the transfer portal. He said he wanted a fresh start, and he sensed from some of the teams that contacted him that adding a veteran goaltender was an intriguing possibility.
"It takes time for goalies," said Beydoun, a Plymouth, Michigan, native who played three years in the USHL before joining Michigan Tech. "Goalies have to be mature. They have to go through it. They have to have experience. Obviously, me as that option, I think that was a reason why some schools reached out."