The University of Wisconsin mens ice hockey program held its annual team banquet Saturday at the Marriott West and announced its team award winners during the festivities.
The Badgers returned to the national scene in 2003-04, sporting a 22-13-8 overall mark and a 14-7-7 record in Western Collegiate Hockey Association action as head coach Mike Eaves spent his second season at the helm. The UW made its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since the 2000-01 campaign, advancing to the regional final, and ended the regular season in third place in the WCHA.
Winning the Spike Carlson MVP Award, as voted on by the players, was All-America goaltender Bernd Bruckler. The junior backstopped Wisconsin to the greatest defensive season in school history and set numerous other UW netminding records on his way to a nationally-recognized campaign. Currently participating in the 2004 IIHF World Championships for his native Austria, Bruckler posted a 19-10-8 record with school-record marks of a 2.09 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in 38 games played. Among his many awards during the season, Bruckler was a first-team All-WCHA pick and was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA East Regional in Albany, N.Y.
Also voted on by the players was freshman Matt Olinger for the Otto Breitenbach Most Improved Player Award. Olinger, who played just two of Wisconsins first 15 contests, cracked the line-up in early December and proceeded to play in 20 of the teams final 28 contests, including both games of Wisconsins NCAA appearance. While not recording a point, Olinger fired off 13 shots and provided solid defense as a stay-at-home blueliner.
The Fenton Kelsey, Jr., Most Competitive Player Award, the final prize voted on by the players, went to forward Adam Burish. Emerging as one of Wisconsins better offensive threats, Burish played as one of Wisconsins top penalty killers, recording a team-leading two short-handed goals during the season. He finished the year with six goals and 19 points as one of six Badgers to play in all 43 games.
Senior Rene Bourque earned the Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic Award given to a player that excels on the ice and in the classroom. The teams leading scorer with 16 goals and 26 points, shared the team lead with three game-winning goals. A consumer science major, Bourque served as one of Wisconsins tri-captains last season.
WHA-TV named sophomore John Funk its WHA-TV Jim Santulli 7th-Man Award, as voted on by the fans. Named for the man who helped put Badger hockey on the air on Wisconsin Public Television, award is presented to the player who fans think gives his all on the ice and best represents the trademarks of team spirit and good sportsmanship. Funk walked-on to the the team for the 2002-03 season and played 32 games this season as a member of the fourth line. He collected two goals and four points this past season.
The Dr. Joseph Coyne Most Consistent Player award went to forward Ryan MacMurchy. Awarded to the Badger with the highest plus-minus, MacMurchy paced the team with a plus-22 mark in 43 games. He also ranked second on the team with 15 goals and 28 points.
The National W Club Community Service Award went to Dan Boeser. The senior was one of five finalists for The Hockey Humanitarian Award, which recognizes both mens and womens collegiate ice hockey players for community service. Boeser was instrumental in having mens hockey players make visits to the UW Childrens Hospital, brightening the days of ill children from the area. Boeser himself recovered from cancer in the summer of 2002 to play his junior and senior seasons and serve as one of the teams tri-captains during his final year.
The Blue Line Club also named Alan Zussman, Wisconsins academic advisor, winner of the Blue Line Club Award. It is given for dedication and service to the hockey booster organization.