Meet the Freshmen: Patrick Daly

Bucky's 5th Quarter's "Meet the Freshmen" series continues tonight with a freshman defenseman from Twin Cities. We've been introducing you to a couple of incoming hockey freshmen every week leading up to the Badgers season opener October 7th versus Northern Michigan at the Kohl Center. We've already featured goalie Landon Peterson, defensemen Jake McCabe, and forwards Brendan Woods, Joseph LaBate, Matt Paape, Tyler Lapic and Brad Navin. Today the spotlight is on Patrick Daly.

Daly comes to the Badgers right out of Minnesota High School hockey where he starred for Benilde-St. Margarets. A four year varsity player, Daly was a member of the Red Knight's squad that went on to a third place finish at the 2008 Minnesota AA State Tournament. A broken foot limited Daly to only 10 games as a junior but he was still able to finish his high school career with 78 points in 94 games, including 40 points in 27 games last year.

Daly's impressive senior season earned him first-team all-conference and first-team all-state honors. Like fellow freshman Joseph LaBate, Daly was also a finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey award. Daly's play also turned the heads of a few NHL scouts. The New Jersey Devils selected the left handed blue-liner in the 7th round, (#189 overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Daly follows in the footsteps of some other talented blue-liners out of the Twin Cities who have suited up for the Badgers like Jake Gardiner, Tom Gilbert, Ryan McDonagh, and David Tanabe.The Badgers weren't the only ones after Daly. He took an official visit to Nebraska-Omaha and unnoficial visits to Colorado College, Minnesota-Duluth, and Bemidji State. When it came time to make a decision, the quality of the Badgers coaching staff was the deciding factor.

"I felt the coaching staff there is phenomenal, and it’s a dream come true to play in the WCHA, especially for a program held in such high esteem."

Daly is an electric skater, and his ability to get up and down the ice was the major reason Wisconsin defense coach Bill Butters and the Badgers targeted the Victoria, Minnesota native according to his high school coach Ken Pauly.

"(Butters) kept using the term leg action," Pauly said. "He says he Daly has got that leg action he is looking for. Butters says you can do a lot with a kid who has that."

"Anyone who sees his game always comments on his skating," Pauly said. "He has such high-end skating ability that he really is a great prospect for the future."

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said much of the same in his press release about the freshman class.

"Patrick Daly is a fine-skating defenseman. He has the ability to jump up into the play. He makes good first passes and will be competitive playing the game."

Not only does Daly fit into the Wisconsin hockey program with his talent, but he's an honor roll student and by all accounts an outstanding person.

"I just don’t know if they come better, I really don’t," Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Ken Pauly said. "I think he’s an extraordinarily nice kid."

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead hockey writer Ryan S. Clark got a chance to watch Daly play last season and gave a glowing review.

"A-freaking-mazing. He's ungodly fast and his only weak spot, to this point, is he does not shoot. You guys got a good one. He's always checking, he's active with his stick, gets in the passing lane and can take a shot. Best HS d-man I've seen (this year)."

With a loaded defensive corps once again, it wasn't clear what Daly's role would be with the Badgers this season. Wisconsin returns All-American Justin Schultz and captain John Ramage, as well as the emerging Frankie Simonelli. Joe Faust has turned himself into an every night player, and incoming freshman Jake McCabe from the NTDP looks like an immediate contributor.

As it stands right now, it's going to be a battle between Daly and senior Eric Springer for the last spot in the lineup. Despite Springer's experience, Daly looks to hold the upper hand. Early reports out of camp have Daly paired with Ramage, and Springer in the extra pairing with Chase Drake.

It's obviously early, but I'm sure I wasn't the only one surprised to see Daly leap Springer so fast in the season. One of the main reasons why is that the coaching staff knows what they have already in Springer but are really intrigued by Daly. The talent Daly brings to the table is undeniable, it's just a matter of how soon he can adjust to play in the WCHA.

The Patrick Daly File:

  • Last Team: Benilde-St. Margarets
  • Hometown: Victoria, Minnesota
  • Size: 6'0, 180
  • Handed: Left
  • Twitter Account: @PatrickDalyIV
  • Last Seasons Stats: 27 GP, 3 G, 37 A, 40 PTS
  • 2011-2012 Prediction: Daly is in a major battle for playing time between himself and Eric Springer. He has more talent than Springer but Springer has the experience of playing in the best league in the country the past few seasons. I had originally given Springer the upper hand due to his experience but Daly's talent may be too much to overlook. 30 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS.

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For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)

Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at chuckschwartz@live.com

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