Badgers hockey: Comparing three NCAA title-winners

2013-02-05T11:37:00Z Badgers hockey: Comparing three NCAA title-winnersAndy Baggot | | 608-252-6175 La Crosse Tribune

Members of the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team that won the NCAA title in 1983 will celebrate the 30th anniversary of that feat this week.

They will gather Friday at the Kohl Center as part of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series pitting UW against Bemidji State. The centerpiece moment will come before the game when Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios drops the ceremonial first puck.

The get-together is a reminder that all three members of the UW coaching staff played on NCAA championship clubs: Head coach Mike Eaves in 1977, interim assistant Matt Walsh in '83 and assistant Gary Shuchuk in 1990.

Earlier this week, Eaves was asked if they've had the occasion to share war stories from those seasons.

"You all talk about which team was better,'' he said.

That's subjective, of course, but it's an interesting exercise to put those three teams side-by-side and look through the same microscope of history.

The best overall record? The 1977 club was 37-7-1 -- setting school standards for most wins and fewest losses -- with the '90 club right behind at 36-9-1 and the '83 outfit at 33-10-4.

Did they win the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions? The 1977 and '90 teams did, while the '83 club finished third behind Minnesota and North Dakota.

How many double-digit goal-scorers? All had 11.

How many first-team All-Americans? The 1977 team had three -- Eaves, Mark Johnson and Craig Norwich -- while the '83 and '90 squads had one each in Pat Flatley and Shuchuk, respectively.

How many members went on to play in the NHL? The 1977 club had six (Eaves, Johnson, Norwich, Steve Alley, Mike Meeker and John Taft), the '90 squad had seven (Shuchuk, John Byce, Sean Hill, Doug Macdonald, Mark Osiecki, Barry Richter and Chris Tancill) and the '83 outfit had eight (Chelios, Flatley, Marc Behrend, Bruce Driver, Paul Houck, John Johannson, Dave Maley and Terry Kleisinger).

How many wound up scoring at least 150 career points at UW? The 1977 squad had five (Eaves 267, Johnson 256, Norwich 168, Alley 165 and Les Grauer 181) as did the '83 club (Houck 177, Johannson 176, Maley 166, Paul Houston 167 and Tim Thomas 154). The 1990 outfit had four (Shuchuk 176, Tancill 173, Byce 165 and Richter 156).

It's worth noting that the 1977 club was so good in part because of who it acquired -- Alley and Taft returned from a stint with the U.S. Olympic Team, which was coached by Bob Johnson -- while the 1983 and '90 teams prevailed despite losing key underclassmen to the NHL: Brian Mullen and John Newberry in '83 and Curtis Joseph in '90.

The '77 outfit is defined largely by its school records for power-play conversion (39 percent), goals (264), assists (439), points (702) and shots on goal (1,937).

The '83 club is defined mainly by its school-record 20 shorthanded goals and winning two WCHA playoff series on the road -- at North Dakota and Minnesota -- to advance to the NCAA tournament.

The '90 squad is defined in good part by its record in overtime games (6-0-1) and the fact it won eight times when trailing after two periods.

Ten players from the 1983 team have the unique distinction of not only owning two NCAA championship rings, but playing in three consecutive national title games (the '82 club fell to North Dakota in 1982). The group includes Behrend, Driver, Johannson, Kleisinger, Jeff Andringa, Tom Carroll, Pat Either, Ted Pearson, Scott Sabo and Tim Sager.

Two players from the 1977 club also won two NCAA title rings. Alley and Taft were members of the first national championship team at UW in 1973.

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