The buzz around the WCHA indicates Wisconsin may be more feared than its preseason ranking shows. Denver coach George Gwozdecky didn’t give his No. 1 ranking to North Dakota. Instead it went to the Badgers.
“I really believe they had the kind of year last year that didn’t really describe the kind of team they’re capable of having,” said Gwozdecky. “I really expect them to be a little bit of a dark horse and really take the league on by storm.”
Under the direction of 18th-year coach Jeff Sauer, Wisconsin will try to capture the MacNaughton Cup for the first time since the 1989-90 season. The Badgers are relying on the play of 20 returning letterwinners.
Senior center Steve Reinprecht is at the core of this group. Reinprecht was the team’s leading scorer a year ago with 16 goals and 17 assists.
Junior Graham Melanson returns between the pipes for the Badgers. The 5-foot-10-inch goalie had a .906 save percentage last season.
Sauer might also see veteran production from newcomer Dany Heatley. The freshman forward was selected as the coaches preseason favorite for WCHA Rookie of the Year.