Boeser nominated for Hockey Humanitarian Award

Finalists will be announced Jan. 15

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Wisconsin tri-captain Dan Boeser is a leader on and off the ice. While his quiet determination has long been evident, he has now earned much deserved recognition for his off-ice leadership as well.

 

Boeser is one of 14 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented annually by its namesake foundation to one of college hockey's finest citizens.

 

"It is a big honor, even if I'm not a finalist or even if I don't win it, it's just an honor to be associated with some of those guys," Boeser said.

 

On Sept. 2, 2002, prior to his junior year, Boeser announced that he had been diagnosed with follicular B cell lymphoma, a non-Hodgkin's form of cancer. He underwent radiation treatment and still played in the first game of the season, Oct. 11 against Rensselaer.

 

Boeser was 22 at the time, making regular trips to UW Hospital for treatment; seeing kids younger than himself fight through similar diseases touched him. Boeser began to visit the hospital as more than simply a patient, but as a friend.

 

"There were a couple kids in particular that were going through radiation treatment and stuff like I was that I would see pretty much every day," Boeser said. "And just to see the smile on their face when I would come in, just to know that I was a Badger hockey player, was pretty big to them."

 

"There is a big waiting room area that you wait in before you go in to get your treatment," Boeser added. "I would come a half hour early every day and it just happened that a couple kids were there at the same time that I was. Over a month, their parents would be there and I would talk to their parents and get to know them and get to know the kids a little bit."

 

Boeser approached Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves about getting his teammates involved and made a series of phone calls to the UW Hospital Child Life Department, organizing visits to hospitalized patients, from himself and some of his teammates.

 

"The coaches, they kind of had the same idea, we just got the thing off the ground to get the guys going to the hospital," Boeser said.

 

The Hockey Humanitarian Award has been presented since 1996. One former Badger, Eric Raygor, won the award in 1998. Finalists for this year's honor will be announced Jan. 15 and the award will be presented to the recipient April 9, during the 2004 NCAA Frozen Four festivities in Boston.

 

"(The nomination) is because of who he is as a young man, the things that he's dealt with and it speaks to his character," Eaves said.

 

Boeser is also an accomplished defenseman, leading all UW blue-liners with 15 points this season, the fourth highest total among defensemen in the Western College Hockey Association, just one point behind the leaders.

 

As a freshman, Boeser's 17 points were third most among rookie defensemen, and he set a Wisconsin record by playing 33 games at defense before being called for his first penalty, the only one he was whistled for all season. The following year he finished third on the team and sixth among WCHA rear guards with 28 points.

 

The 2002-'03 campaign was far less fruitful on the ice for Boeser and the Badgers. As he fought to regain his playing shape, Boeser tallied just 12 points, and Wisconsin finished 13-23-4

 

It was Boeser's leadership this season that helped propel the Badgers to their school-record setting 15-game unbeaten streak.

 

In the fifth game of the streak, a lethargic Wisconsin team trailed defending national champion Minnesota 3-1 after two periods, having been outplayed in all aspects of the game.

 

Between periods, Boeser stepped out of character. Normally the coolest customer on the ice, Boeser was fuming mad as the team met in the locker room.

 

"I heard young Dan Boeser first and foremost," Eaves said after the game. "I heard all three of our captains speak, but initially and loudest I heard Mr. Boeser."

 

"That is probably as mad as I have been playing hockey in my life," Boeser said afterward. "The first two periods it was really disappointing to come out and play like that the way we have been playing. I just felt that something needed to be said and some of the other guys talk more than I do and I thought that if I were to say something and snap a little bit then guys would maybe get their butts in gear."

 

Boeser then scored a goal just 36 seconds into the third period. The Badgers added the equalizer less than four minutes later and maintained the pressure, preserving a tie. One night later, Wisconsin came from behind to beat Minnesota 4-3.

 

The unbeaten streak was snapped Dec. 28, in a 3-1 loss to Ferris State but a team that was supposed to undergo another year of rebuilding under Eaves is still riding a 12-game WCHA unbeaten streak and, at 7-2-5 in conference play (13-4-5 overall), is tied for first place with St. Cloud State. Wisconsin is rated No. 3 in the nation in both the U.S. College Hockey Online and the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine polls.


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