Hockey Players Move on to Pros

Once the hockey season ended for the Broncos with a pair of loses to Northern Michigan the team members were relegated to watching games on TV. A few of the top seniors on the team have gotten the chance to move on to the professional level almost as soon as the season finished joining a long list of former Broncos playing professional hockey.

Seniors Dave Cousineau, Andy Townsend, and Josh Akright have caught the attention of scouts at the professional level. Both Akright and Cousineau were drafted in the recent UHL entry draft and Townsend played games in San Francisco a weekend after the Bronco's season ended.

Akright, after being chosen in the UHL draft by Kalamazoo, joined the team for the remainder of their season and scored an assist and sat in the penalty box for 6 minutes in 6 games played. Akright, not at all a goal scorer, is known for his gritty defensive zone play and added strong defensive help to the K-Wings in the end of the season.

Akright joined WMU assistant coach Chris Brooks, who signed with the team during the Broncos season to a contract that allowed him to play in selected games while continuing his coaching duties for the Broncos. Brooks scored 3 goals and 5 assists in 11 games played with 10 PIM.

Cousineau has decided to accept an internship for this summer after completion of his Integrated Supply Management degree and will pursue a professional career next fall with interest he is being shown from teams in the AHL and ECHL.

The most recent Bronco to make the NHL as a regular; Joe Corvo notched a pair of assists in a LA Kings win on March 31 to bring his season totals to 5 goals, 6 assists for 11 points with a +/- of +1 and 14 PIM in 47 games played. Since being called up, Corvo has only sat out a handful of games, and has made a strong case for a permanent spot on the team that can be solidified by a solid preseason camp before next season. Before being called up Corvo was the top scoring defenseman in the AHL for more than a year.

Long time NHLer Mike Eastwood was picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks off waivers from the St. Louis Blues earlier this season. A career roll player that sees most of his time on the third and fourth line Eastwood has put up respectable numbers this season with 2 goals and 9 assists to go along with 24 penalty minutes. Those stats are on top of 1 goal and 3 assists scored while with the Blues early this season. Eastwood's NHL career has spanned 7 teams since beginning in 1991.

Jamal Meyers, who was instrumental in the St. Louis Blues playoff success last season, has sat out the bulk of this season with a severe knee injury that includes torn ligaments that are not expected to be healed for several months to come.

Mike Bishai, who finished his Bronco career in 2002, has played in 25 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. The Edmonton Oilers signed him in 2002 after finishing an outstanding career as a Bronco that was highlighted by a 68-point season in 2000-01 that earned him NCAA scoring title honors. In his 25 games this season Bishai has 7 goals, 5 assists, and only 9 PIM. Stats to note include 2 game winning goals and a 28% shooting percentage. Mike also spent 25 games with Columbus of the ECHL compiling 12 goals and 17 assists including 7 power play goals.

Steve Rymsha played in 70 games this season for the Reading Royals of the ECHL this season compiling 38 goals, 39 assists for 70 points this season. Rymsha's Bronco teammate and classmate David Gove played 8 games for the Laredo Bucks of the CHL compiling 4 goals and 12 assists for 16 points and 15 PIM, followed by 68 games with San Antonio of the AHL with 11goals, 19 assists for 30 points, a +/- of +12, and 28 PIM.

Former goaltenders have also found professional success. Jeff Reynaert, after being traded from the Kalamazoo Wings played with Quad City and led the league with a .923 save percentage and was second in the league with a 2.5 goals against average. Marc Magliarditi played 49 games with Richmond of the ECHL compiling a 3.04 goals against average and a .902 save percentage. Marc played only 1 season as a Bronco, but earned CCHA Rookie of the Year honors and was an All-American in that freshman season before signing a minor league contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him in 1995, the summer before he came the WMU.

Former Bronco goalie Matt Barnes played 47 games with Austin of the CHL and compiled a .934 save percentage and 1.9 goals against average and 33 wins, all of which lead the league currently. On a more exciting note, Barnes will rejoin the Broncos next season as the goaltender coach. Barnes was supposed to join the staff for last season, but decided to play one more year as a professional, a decision that has paid off well for him.

The Broncos have long history of sending players to the professional ranks after successful college careers, including current coaches Jim Culhane, Scott Garrow, and Chris Brooks. That tradition is sure to continue with players like Dana Lattery, Vince Bellissimo, Pat Dwyer, and Jeff Campbell just to name a few.

Broncos Illustrated Top Stories