Former Wisconsin goaltender Kirk Daubenspeck was on hand last night at the Kohl Center as an honorary captain for the men's hockey team. Daubenspeck spoke to the team before their contest against Denver and dropped the ceremonial first puck before the opening face-off.
The ceremony happened one year to the day from when Daubenspeck was critically injured in a car crash outside of Madison. The former Badger All-American was in a coma for six days and spent over a month in the hospital.
After the game Daubenspeck talked to the media and sounded emotional when talking about what it meant to him to be honored by the Badgers.
"Tonight is the culmination of it, I'm very touched. I always got fairly emotional before games. Being back in that situation, and having the home fans here supporting me like they did. It was very special."
Daubenspeck was very appreciative of everyone who has helped him along in his journey to recovery.
"It's been a long journey. It's been really tough I'm sure on my wife, my family, my friends, and my ex teammates have been just amazing. I really honestly couldn't have done it without them. It's an ongoing journey, and I'm trying to make the best out of it as I think any Badger would. All you can do is work hard."
After the game Badger head coach Mike Eaves talked about how special it was to have the man known as 'Dauber' back in the building.
"It meant an awful lot. As a coaching staff we had the opportunity to go to the hospital and see Kirk when he was in a coma, and as disappointed as we are about the outcome of the game tonight, it kind of puts it in perspective a little bit. He talks about it himself, what a spiritual awakening it was. He spoke to the guys before the game and told them to enjoy every day, enjoy every game because you’ll never know when something like this will happen. He went around the room and shook everybody’s hand, looked them in the eye, and everybody introduced themselves. He didn’t know the freshmen. Last year the guys who were here knew Kirk through Mike Strobel and Jamie Spencer. So knowing where he was last year and where he is today, it’s a modern day miracle in our eyes."-Mike Eaves
After the accident last year, many current players on the Badger roster hosted fundraisers to help offset the medical costs for Kirk and his family. A few of the Badgers shared their thoughts on the occasion last night.
"For a miracle like that to happen and to see where he’s at now. He came into the locker room and gave us a little talk and I think everyone had goosebumps, especially when he dropped the puck and everyone was cheering for him. It was definitely good to see and we were all pretty excited for it. It was nice."-Mark Zengerle
"It definitely does put things in perspective. We’re here trying to win hockey games everyday. We have a lot of pressure on us, but at the same time you look at things like that and we’re losing hockey games but there’s a little more to life. Yes, we’ve got to get back to work and win some games, but it definitely put things in perspective."-Ryan Little
"Like they (Zengerle and Little) said, it was pretty cool. It definitely makes you think there’s more than hockey out there. I had goosebumps when he was walking out there and dropped the puck. I think it got the boys going pretty good. It’s just too bad we couldn’t get him the win tonight."-Justin Schultz
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