For the most part, everyone following the Wisconsin hockey program was shocked when freshman defenseman Patrick Daly announced in early March that he was leaving the Badgers. The 6'0, 180 pound rear guard came to Madison last fall off the heels of being selected in the 7th round of the NHL draft by the New Jersey Devils.
At the time, Daly told us that the move was academically driven. "I didn't see myself playing in the NHL, so I wanted to spend my time focusing on improving my GPA rather then my hockey abilities," Daly noted.
However a little less than two months later it looks like the young blue-liner from Victoria, Minnesota has had a bit of a change of heart. Daly told Bucky's 5th Quarter on Monday night that he's planing on transferring to the D-3 level at St. Thomas, a private University in St. Paul.
"Hockey is a great game and after thinking long and hard about whether or not I wanted to completely give it up, I decided that I still had the itch to play," Daly said.
Daly came to the Badgers last fall after a storied career at Benilde-St. Margaret's high school in the twin cities. In his senior season, Daly was named first team All-State and was a Mr. Hockey finalist after registering 40 points. Daly was also an absurd +52 in 27 games in his final high school season.
In his freshman season at Wisconsin, Daly was in and out of the lineup. He did not record a point in 11 games in his rookie year in the capital city.
Daly, who is said to be one of the most intelligent players on the team feels like he's found the right balance between athletics and academics at St. Thomas.
"The balance between school and athletics at St. Thomas fits into what I was looking for," Daly said Monday night.
"So it still allows me to play the great game of hockey but also to focus on my studies, and work towards my degree."
With the graduation of Eric Springer, and the presumed loss of Justin Schultz to the National Hockey League, there should be some opportinies for playing time on the Badger blue-line next fall.
At this time head coach Mike Eaves plans to bring in freshmen Kevin Schulze from the Omaha Lancers (USHL), and Eddie Wittchow from the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL). High school defenseman Tim Davison (Notre Dame Academy) could be another option, although the Badgers would like him to spend next season in the USHL.
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