Countdown to Puck Drop: Celebrating the Returners
Today's focus is on the 21 returning players from last season's CCHA Tournament Championship team, including eight seniors that helped transform the program to what it is now.
Three years ago Brett Beebe, Trevor Elias, Ben Miller, Dane Walters and Luke Witkowski came to Western Michigan as freshmen. The Broncos struggled that season winning eight games with just four CCHA wins. Two seasons later they were raising the Mason Cup along with Nick Pisellini, Mike Leone and Ben Warda who transferred in after the 2009-10 season.
The junior class of Chase Balisy, Shane Berschbach, Dennis Brown, and Dan DeKeyser helped WMU succeed right away under then head coach Jeff Blashill. All three played significant minutes week in and week out to help WMU to the CCHA Championship game and the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.
The sophomore class of Alex Carpenter, Robert Francis, Garrett Haar, Will Kessel, David Killip, Justin Kovacs, Jordan Oesterle, Frank Slubowski and Matt Stewart played key parts in the great success the Broncos had last season. Oesterle and Haar were staples on WMU's blue line, while Kessell, Killip, Kovacs and Francis saw a lot of actions as forwards. Slubowski grabbed the reins and was WMU's starting goalie for the majority of the seasons, setting a WMU program record for goals-against average in a season at 2.03. Slubowski and Haar were both named to the CCHA All-Rookie team, while WMu's netminder went on to win the CCHA Tournament MVP.
The Broncos open the season when they host Western Ontario on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. The game is free to the public.