Gophers’ DeBus likely to stay for senior year

by Michael Rand

Steve DeBus picked up his telephone after just one ring Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t a scout from an NHL team calling — it was just a reporter.
DeBus, the starting goaltender for the Gophers men’s hockey team last season, has one more season of eligibility left but is willing to entertain pro offers. So far, however, his phone hasn’t exactly been ringing off the hook.
That’s turned a potentially difficult decision into a virtual certainty. The safe bet at this point, DeBus said, is that he will be back in the net for his senior season at Minnesota.
“I’m caught in a numbers game. I’m just waiting to see what happens,” he said. “As of the last couple of weeks, I’m coming back to the U. But you never know. A team might not need a goalie now, but then need one in July or August.”
DeBus, 24, said that if a good offer came along, he would likely pursue it. Because he played two years of junior hockey and had a redshirt season, he is already older than most college players.
He compiled a 25-12-1 record last season as the Gophers advanced to the second round of the NCAA West Regional. Although another successful year of college hockey might increase his options, he also knows his age might limit his chances if he waits another year.
“Getting onto the next level has always been one of my goals,” DeBus said. “If something happens, I’ll have to look at it.”
If he leaves, the Gophers would be would be without an experienced goaltender. The other two goalies on Minnesota’s roster last season, Erik Day and Willy Marvin, have started a combined four games in their careers. The Gophers have not signed any other goalies at this point.
“I’ve talked with the coaches, and they know what I’m doing,” DeBus said. “I’ve let them know where I stand, and I think they’re comfortable with that.”
Women’s hockey
Gophers women’s hockey coach Laura Halldorson announced 15 players who have committed to play for the team in its inaugural 1997-98 season.
Heather Alm, Matty Brekken, Emily Buchholz, Hattie Hoff, Erica Killewald, Nadine Muzerall, Kelly Olson, Julie Otto, Marisa Pettiford, Sarma Pone, Brittny Ralph, Kris Scholz, Ambria Thomas, Tai Thorsheim and Laura Tryba will all play for Minnesota next season.
The signees include 10 Minnesotans and one player each from North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and Alaska.
The Gophers will begin play Nov. 2 at Mariucci Arena against Augsburg College.
DeDecker honored
Gophers volleyball player Katrien DeDecker on Wednesday was named 1997 Senior Athlete of the Year and presented with the Big Ten Medal of Honor at the Patty Berg Banquet at the Radisson Hotel Metrodome.
DeDecker, a native of Bredene, Belgium, became Minnesota’s first-ever first-team All-American in volleyball this season. She set the Big Ten career kill record with 2,300. She is among the top 10 Gophers career leaders in kills, digs, service aces, solo blocks, block assists and games played.