Meeting Expectations

Daniel Bellissimo – younger brother of star forward Vince – has come into the Western Michigan hockey team with high expectations. Already established as a regular to the line-up early in his freshman season Bellissimo looks for consistent improvement from himself as a goalie.

He has grown seven inches in the past three years. In that time the 20 year old has played with 4 junior teams before joining the Broncos this fall including being named South Conference All-Star in the OPJHL. Daniel Bellissimo has grown into being an athletic butterfly goalie that is very vocal between the pipes.

"I used to be more of a CuJo style or a [Dominick] Hasek style maybe three or four years ago," said Bellissimo. "Then I got with my new goalie coach back home [in Toronto] – the goalie coach of the Islanders – and he's helped me a lot and I've come a long way in those four years."

Now Daniel gets a chance to play alongside his Brother competitively for the first time since he was four years old. But for Daniel it's more of a case of playing against his brother in practice. "Every time he comes to shoot I want to make the save or else the guys in practice are going to hassle me," said Bellissimo. "It fun to have my brother on the team. He has some of his own tricks and it's tough to stop him."

Bellissimo burst onto the scene very quickly for the Broncos posting a solid game in the Brown and Gold intrasquad game splitting time with Scott Foster and Eric Marvin. Then in the exhibition game with Brock, Bellissimo split time with Marvin making key saves in the 8-1 win.

Since the beginning of the regular season Daniel has played in five of the Broncos six games so far and is expected to start this weekend against non-conference foe Niagara.

Both Bellissimo and the WMU coaching staff have set high expectations of the young netminder. "I expect to not let any bad goals in," said Bellissimo. "I just go out there and play my game and do what I can to help us win."

"As a young guy coming in he is still adjusting to Division 1 college hockey and to our league (the CCHA) specifically," said head coach Jim Culhane. "I think he's done a good job. I'm pleased with him."

Bellissimo hasn't been alone in his growth as a goalie here at WMU. Both Foster and Marvin have pushed him to play consistently and volunteer coach Alan Avery – who works with the Bronco goalies – has worked hard at refining his game. "He's helped me with some of the problems I've had so far," added Bellissimo. "He's helped me mentally."

Bellissimo is beginning what's expected to be a successful four-year career here at WMU and the future looks bright for him. Next fall he along with Foster and Marvin will be join by 2005 recruit Ryan Mensing turning this season's battle for playing time into a four-man battle in net.

Shuffling Lines:

The forward lines have been shuffled this week in practice in an effort to jump-start the scoring of the Broncos not named Brent Walton, Vince Bellissimo or Pat Dwyer as well as adjusting to compensate for the injured Mike Erickson who is listed as day-to day.

The line of Mike Lesperance, Bellissimo and Dwyer is back together while Paul Szczechura in now centering Brian Bicek and Jeff Pierce. Walton, Darryl Moore and Kevin LaBatte were seen working together in practice and the fourth line observed was Trevor Cook, Jason Moul and Jeff Kyrzakos with Brett John filling in all three positions at different times.

These lines are certainly not set in stone and fans aren't guaranteed to see them this weekend, but an effort to spread the wealth between the top three lines was quite evident in practice this morning.

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