Two Broncos selected in NHL draft
June 24, 2002
TORONTO -- The WMU hockey team had two players selected Sunday (June 23) on the second and final day of the 2002 National Hockey League Entry Draft, held at Toronto's Air Canada Center. This is the first time since 1993 that Western Michigan University has had multiple players selected in the same draft.
Sophomore right wing Pat Dwyer of Great Falls, Mont., was chosen in the fourth round, 116th overall, by the Atlanta Thrashers. Incoming freshman center Vince Bellissimo of Toronto went in the fifth round, 158th overall, to the Florida Panthers.
"I'm really excited for both guys," said head coach Jim Culhane, who attended thedraft. "It's a tremendous honor for the program when players are recognized as NHL prospects. It also speaks volumes of the fine work our assistant coaches Scott Garrow and Chris Brooks are doing in recruiting young talent."
The NHL Draft capped a special week for Dwyer, voted the CCHA Rookie of the Year last season. On Wednesday, he was invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, which will feature the nation's top players under age 20. On Saturday, Dwyer celebrated his 19th birthday. The 5 foot 11 inch, 170-pound forward caught the attention of NHL scouts this past season after leading CCHA rookies in scoring with 28 points in 28 conference games. Dwyer also finished second on the WMU squad in goals with 17 and third in scoring with 34 points in 38 contests.
Bellissimo, 19, will remember Sunday as a day he realized a boyhood dream in his hometown of Toronto. The 6 foot, 190 pound Bellissimo was named top forward in the United States Hockey League last season after placing second in league scoring with 37 goals and 76 points in 61 games. He also set a USHL record for most goals scored by an expansion team player as a member of the Topeka ScareCrows.
Dwyer and Bellissimo are expected to remain with the Broncos since draft rights of NHL teams are protected for two years.
Western Michigan begins its 30th varsity season Oct. 5 with an exhibition contest against the University of Waterloo in Lawson Arena.
Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, 269 387-4138, firstname.lastname@example.org