Broncos Announce Hockey Class

The Western Michigan University ice hockey team has announced the inking of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. This year's class averages 17 years and 8 months in age - the youngest group head coach Jim Culhane and his staff have recruited in four years.

"This class is young and very talented for its age group," said Culhane, who's team next season will consist entirely of his recruits for the first time. "I think at least four of these guys will be candidates for the NHL Draft next summer." The newest Broncos are: defenseman Kyle Bushee (Otsego, Mich.), center Luke Dubbin (Midland, Ont.), right wing Kevin Labatte (Ogden, Utah), defenseman Ryan Mahrle (Troy, Mich.) and center Paul Szczechura (Brantford, Ont.).

Below are biographies on the freshman class of 2003-04:

KYLE BUSHEE, D
6-1, 185, left-handed shot, Des Moines Buccaneers (United States Hockey League) - DOB: 3/27/85 Bushee grew up in Otsego, just outside of Kalamazoo, and has wanted to be a Bronco hockey player since age 10 * a mobile defenseman with good size, Bushee is applying his trade in the Tier I Junior A United States Hockey League. In 12 games this season at Des Moines, Bushee has five assists and just two penalty minutes. Last year, he compiled 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 65 games with the Michigan Ice Dogs Midget AAA team.

LUKE DUBBIN, C - pronounced: DUB-bin
6-2, 185, right-handed shot, Couchiching Terriers (Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League) - DOB: 1/29/85 Dubbin earned OPJHL North Division Rookie of the Year honors in 2001-02, finishing with 16 goals and 35 assists for 51 points in 41 games. He is playing for the Terriers once again this season and has six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 11 games. Dubbin caught the attention of Bronco coaches with his play-making abilities.

KEVIN LABATTE, RW
6-2, 190, right-handed shot, Elmira Sugar Kings (Mid-Western Junior B Hockey League) - DOB: 9/25/84 A teammate of WMU freshmen Daryl Moore and Brent Walton last season at Elmira, Labatte brings excellent size to the forward position. He burned a few goal bulbs with 23 goals and 17 assists for 40 points in 46 games during the 2001-02 campaign. Labatte is off to a fast start this season, pumping in 10 goals and 20 points in 20 games. He is a strong skater with a heavy shot and is the first Bronco player to originate from Utah.

RYAN MAHRLE, D - pronounced: MAR-lee
5-11, 175, right-handed shot, Leamington Flyers (Western Junior B Hockey League) - DOB: 2/8/85 Mahrle has played for the U.S. Under-18 Team at international tournaments in Sweden (Four Nations Cup) and the Czech Republic. This year for the Leamington Flyers he has two goals and 15 assists in 18 games. He was tabbed Most Valuable Rookie Defenseman and named to the Rookie All-Star team in the Western Ontario Junior B Hockey League last year. Mahrle averaged nearly a point per game in 2001-02, compiling eight goals and 35 assists for 43 points in 48 contests. He was drafted by the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League but opted for a college hockey career instead.

PAUL SZCZECHURA, C - pronounced: Sah-CHEER-ah
5-11, 175, right-handed shot, Brantford Golden Eagles (Mid-Western Junior B Hockey League) - DOB: 11/30/85 Szczechura hails from Brantford, Ont. - a town that has produced numerous Broncos through the years including freshman Daryl Moore. Szczechura currently leads the MWJHL in scoring, stockpiling 18 goals and 33 assists in 21 games. Last year, he led the Golden Eagles in scoring amassing 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points in 47 games. He has excellent on-ice vision and soft hands around the net.

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