April 25, 2013
MADISON, Wis. –- With objects from the history of Badger athletics in sight at Heritage Hall, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team added to its history on Thursday when it handed out team awards for the recently completed 2012-13 season. In a team-only gathering, captains for the 2013-14 season were also introduced.
The team’s leading goal scorer (23) and point getter (36) from this past season was voted the Spike Carlson Most Valuable Player by his teammates. Junior forward Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.), who last week let the coaching staff know of his intentions to return for his senior season, won the MVP award in the 50th year of its existence. The last seven Badger MVPs, along with eight of the last nine and 10 of the last 12 team MVPs have gone on to reach the NHL.
Senior forward Ryan Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.) was named the Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic Award for the second-consecutive season. The award combines academic excellence with athletic success. The real estate and finance major boasted the team’s highest grade-point average of the team’s everyday skaters. Past winners include Ben Street, Brian Elliott, Rene Bourque, Brad Winchester and Mike Eaves.
Winning this year’s Dr. Joseph Coyne Most Consistent Player honor was freshman defenseman Kevin Schulze (White Bear Lake, Minn.). The award is given to the team’s plus-minus leader and Schulze paced the Badgers with a plus-21 rating on the season. Past winners include Mersch, Justin Schultz, Jamie McBain, Joe Pavelski, Brian Rafalski, Gary Suter, Chris Chelios and Mark Johnson.
Voted as this year’s Otto Breitenbach Most Improved Player was junior forward Jefferson Dahl (Eau Claire, Wis.). Dahl more than doubled his career goal total with seven goals, while his 14 points doubled his career totals from his first two years as a Badger. Past winners include Little and Dahl, as well as Joe Piskula, Brian Elliott, John Byce, Paul Ranheim, Marc Behrend and Peter Johnson.
The final award voted on by the team went to Little, who was named the Fenton Kelsey, Jr., Most Competitive Player for the second-consecutive season. Little, also the team hits leader with 230 on the season, joins Ryan McDonagh, Adam Burish, Alex Brooks and Mike Strobel as two-time winners. Other winners include Blake Geoffrion, Mike Richter, Tony Granato, Patrick Flatley, Brian Mullen and Bob Suter.
Wisconsin Public Television producer Deb Piper was on hand to award the WHA-TV Jim Santulli 7th-Man Award to Dahl. Named after Jim Santulli, who was key in initiating Badger basketball, football and hockey games on WHA in 1973-74, the award is voted on by Wisconsin Public Television viewers. Past winners include Eric Springer, Aaron Bendickson, Andy Brandt, Nic Licari, Dan Boeser, Mark Osiecki, Matt Walsh and Dan Gorowsky.
The final two team awards went to John Ramage, for his 121 blocked shots, and Brendan Woods, for his 61.6 percent faceoff winning percentage.
At the conclusion of the gathering, Head Coach Mike Eaves introduced the team to its 2013-14 captains. Junior defenseman Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.) will serve as team captain during his upcoming senior season, Simonelli served as one of the team's assistant captains this past year. Eau Claire, Wis., natives in junior forward Jefferson Dahl and sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe, will serve as assistant captains.
Wisconsin, which will boast 10 seniors and six juniors next season, officially opens practice on Oct. 5. The team skates in its first game on Friday, Oct. 11 at the Kohl Center against Northern Michigan.