DeKeyser: All-Around Extraordinary
WMU Defenseman Decides to Stay Another Year
by Lauren D'Antonio/CHN Reporter
With as much success as Western Michigan's Dan DeKeyser has already had, he was an obvious candidate to make the jump to the pros this offseason, like so many of his peers. But DeKeyser, the 6-foot-3 defenseman who will be a junior next season, chose to stay another year.
DeKeyser may be extraordinary now, but his story was fairly ordinary at first. Born in Macomb, Michigan, like a lot of players, he grew up playing hockey at very early age.
“I started really young; my dad got me on the ice when I was about 3-4 years old. It was just something that I liked to do," DeKeyser said. "I was always playing, even in the summertime. Like a lot of kids, right after hockey season would go play baseball or soccer. I just always loved being on the ice, I liked playing hockey. I played in the spring and even in the summer. I’d try to find some ice somewhere with my dad and just get on the ice. I’d skate all summer.”
DeKeyser has always set high aspirations for himself, as was evident in his year-round dedication as a young boy to playing hockey. This year’s aspirations are no different.
“I like to set high goals; I’d like to win the national title," he said. "I think we’re going to have a team that is going to be able to compete at a high level. When anybody comes to play, we have a chance to beat anyone in the country. I think if we play all together next year we have a chance to get at that goal.”
DeKeyser is not the only one who has set these goals either, in fact, the whole team has stayed behind this off-season to work on continually improving their game. None of them have to be there, but they all decided to stay behind to continually improve Western Michigan’s chances next season.
Twenty-two year-old Dan DeKeyser has a total of 10 goals, 20 assists and a plus-23 rating in the 78 games he’s played as a Bronco. Add to this his large frame, and one gets a player that many NHL teams, including the Red Wings, are hungry to sign. However, DeKeyser is still unsigned.
“I just love the school and I have a lot of fun here. But not only that, I love the atmosphere. I love playing for the Broncos," DeKeyser said. "We’re a tight-knit group and everybody gets along. t’s been really special the last couple years, because it’s been really fun to be a part of that. I never really want to go home, I love living here. I just felt like I needed to put on maybe another 5 or 10 pounds on before I was ready for pros. The team we are bringing in next year is looking really strong, and I thought it would be something special to be a part of.”
It may very well be special. DeKeyser is very confident in his team’s ability to make it to the Frozen Four this season. DeKeyser believes that the Broncos have improved tremendously the past few seasons, and if they take their offense to a whole new level, he is confident they will win many games.
“Last year it started with our goaltending, we really worked our tails off back there," DeKeyser said. "So it started from there and then it was up to our defense. I thought that last year’s strength was our defense. At times we would struggle to score, but we kept the puck out of our own net and that really helped us to win some games as well. Hopefully, this year we can put the offensive aspect to it as well and be a force on both sides.”
After being knocked out in the first game of the NCAAs the last two seasons, DeKeyser believes that his team’s past failures will be their greatest motivation this year.
“We have a strong work-ethic, we won the CCHA Championship last year and we got to the finals the year before," DeKeyser said. "I think we’re making strides every year. I think we know what it takes to win. ... I think if we can get (to the NCAAs) again, which I know we can, I think that will help us just get to the next level and just keep winning more and more games.”
Although Dan DeKeyser’s story started out ordinary, the further it goes along, the more extraordinary it becomes. In spite of this, DeKeyser still likes to think that he is an ordinary guy that just works extraordinarily hard.
“I don’t like to think there’s really a whole lot that separates me," he said, "I just like to think I work hard and I just try to make the right play whenever I’m near the puck and play solid defensively. I always have pride in playing in the defensive zone; I have my whole career. I would like to make my game a little more offensive as well. I just think that making the simple play is the best play, and sometimes it’s not a bad play just to shoot the puck out of the zone when your team is in trouble.”
DeKeyser has always looked up to Nicklas Lidstrom. He admires his judgment and his finesse on the ice. He has always tried to emulate Lidstrom’s skills as he looks to continually improve as a defenseman.
“Growing up, I always watched him and I just remember the way he played. He would always make the smart play, he was always really smooth out on the ice. I try to base my game around him.
“If someone were to talk about me down the road after I’m done playing, if they said, 'He works hard on and off the ice, he’s got a good head on him, he always makes the right decisions on the ice, he’s good with his teammates, and he’s a good locker-room guy ...' I think I could go away from the game pretty happy if they said those things about me.”