April 14, 2014
MADISON, Wis. – The 2013-14 NHL regular season is in the books, but play continues for the 12 of Wisconsin’s 21 NHL alumni as they look to help their teams to the Stanley Cup when the playoffs start on Thursday.
Wisconsin has former players on seven of the 16 playoff teams. Ryan Suter, Dany Heatley and Jake Dowell are members of the Minnesota Wild organization, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh suit up for the New York Rangers, Brian Elliott plays for the St. Louis Blues, Joe Pavelski and Adam Burish are on the San Jose Sharks, Rene Bourque sees time for the Montreal Canadiens, Brendan Smith plays for the Detroit Red Wings, and Cody Goloubef and Jack Skille are in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization.
They will all try to etch their names onto the Stanley Cup alongside the 14 Badger alumni already represented on the trophy. Those 14 players won a combined 20 NHL championships, with Davis Drewiske being the most recent Badger to hoist the Cup when he won in 2011-12 with the Los Angeles Kings.
The playoffs come on the heels of banner regular seasons for several Badgers. Pavelski, Craig Smith and Kyle Turris all led their teams in goals, with Pavelski finishing tied for eighth in the NHL with 79 points and third in the league with 41 goals. Craig Smith eclipsed the 50-point mark with 52 points (24 goals, 28 assists) this season, while Turris matched him, scoring 58 points of his own on 26 goals and 32 assists. That trio – along with Stepan and Suter – finished in the top four in point-scoring for their teams.
On the other end of the ice, Elliott turned in another tremendous season, finishing second in the NHL in goals-against average (1.96) and in an 11th-place tie in save percentage (.922). Meanwhile, McDonagh led Rangers defensemen with 14 goals, 43 points and a plus-11 margin. The effort earned him the team’s MVP award, as voted on by reporters covering the team. His teammates also appreciated his performance, choosing him for the Players’ Player Award. McDonagh was the first Ranger to earn both honors since Brian Leetch in 2002-03.
Wisconsin alumni’s success also included the AHL, where Dowell and Andrew Joudrey earned awards. Joudrey was the Springfield Falcons’ winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his superb work in the Springfield community, which ranged from donating items and serving dinner at a homeless shelter to making numerous ‘Stick to Reading’ visits to promote children’s reading.
Dowell was also honored for his work off the ice, with the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award, which is given to the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. The Iowa Wild captain is a strong advocate for a Huntington’s disease cure, an illness that both his late father – as well as his older brother, Luke – suffered from.
Some recent Badgers also hit milestones, as Jake McCabe tallied his first NHL point off an assist on Sunday while Nic Kerdiles potted his first professional goal for the Norfolk Admirals on the same night. Michael Mersch boasts two goals and an assist in six games for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, while Tyler Barnes netted two goals in his first game and has played in five games total for the San Antonio Rampage.