After notching his first double-digit goal campaign last season, to go along with a career-high 17 points, Minnesota Duluth senior Joe Basaraba is trying ratchet up his offensive game even more. The Florida Panthers third-round selection (69th overall) in the 2010 Entry Draft is tied for tops on the team in scoring with 4 points (2G/2A) after six games.
The Fort Frances, ON native got the season off on the right foot by drawing an assist on Tony Cameranesi's game-opening goal in the Bulldogs' 2-1 home ice win over the Michigan Tech Huskies. In the second game between the two teams, Basaraba scored the game-opening goal on a power play, but Tech rallied to even the score and the contest ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Bulldogs would next hit the road for a pair of games against Colorado College. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Basaraba and Cameranesi combined to set up a goal by Austin Farley early in the third period. Colorado College would score later in the frame to put to the finishing touches on a 3-1 win. Basaraba would get blanked for the first time this season in the next game, however, he did finish with a shot on goal and a +1 rating in UMD's impressive 5-1 victory.
Minnesota Duluth returned home to face Notre Dame and dropped the opener 3-2. Although Basaraba didn't figure in the scoring again, he did fire four shots on goal in the loss. The gritty winger would pot the first goal in game two of the set, providing a needed spark, as the Bulldogs exacted revenge on the Fighting Irish with a 4-1 victory.
Before attending Minnesota Duluth, Basaraba played two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, MN, bypassing the OHL in the process. As a freshman on UMD's NCAA Championship winning team, he scored 3 goals, 2 assists and was -4 with 20 PIM in 36 games. During his sophomore season, Basaraba expanded his role and finished the season with 7 goals, 9 assists and +8 rating with 58 PIM. The Bulldogs' title defense was ended in the Northeast Regional Final by Boston College, who went on to claim the crown. Although Minnesota Duluth slumped to a disappointing 14-19-5 record last season, Basaraba posted career-highs in goals (10) and points (17) for the offensively-challenged club. He finished the year with a -6 rating and 40 PIM.
Basaraba has got good size, skating ability, a hard shot, and likes to throw his body around. He has the potential to be a bottom-six, penalty-killing, role player type in the NHL. If he can continue to up his offensive numbers this season for the improving Bulldogs, the outlook for him gets even brighter. He should challenge for a spot on the San Antonio Rampage next year.