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Goalie Dayn Belfour wants to be known for more than just being 'Eddie's boy'

NHL.com @NHL

OMAHA, Neb. - Dayn Belfour walks and talks like his father.

He does not, however, play goalie like newly inducted Hockey Hall of Famer Ed Belfour.

That's not a knock against Dayn. Few men have worked between the pipes the way "Eddie the Eagle" did in a 16-year NHL career highlighted by a Stanley Cup and two Vezina Trophies.

Dayn, however, won't stop trying.

The 22-year-old, first-year walk-on at the University of Nebraska-Omaha is among three goalies competing to win the No. 1 job that's still open even as the Mavericks (8-7-3) near the second half of the season.

Dayn has modest statistics in limited playing time and probably would go about his business drawing little notice if it weren't for that last name, which has alternately opened doors for him and been a curse.

"I've got one of the greatest names in hockey history, and I wear it proudly," Dayn said. "Hopefully, I can one day accomplish everything my father did and then some."

UNO coach Dean Blais said there's nothing wrong with Dayn wanting to chase the dream. But he recommended a dose of reality two years ago when Dayn considered going overseas to play professionally after spending five seasons in the junior ranks.

"I advised Eddie to have him to go to school," Blais said. "Obviously, he wasn't Eddie Belfour. He wasn't as good as his dad. There are only a few of those guys who come along every so often, right?"

Dayn said his father didn't push him into hockey. He couldn't help but want to play after being around the NHL since he was a child. Chris Chelios is his godfather and Jeremy Roenick is one of his dad's best friends.

He started out as a defenceman, because he wanted to be like Chelios. Then he played forward, because he wanted to be a goal-scorer like Roenick. And then, at about age 12, he wanted to be like his father.

"I asked my dad for goaltending equipment for Christmas," Dayn said. "He knew what I was getting myself into."

Blais and his junior coaches said being a goalie with the name Belfour might have allowed Dayn to get a tryout that he wouldn't have got otherwise. Beyond that, they said, he's earned everything he's gotten through hard work.

Dayn's name certainly drew the attention of Ernie Sutherland, the assistant general manager of the Winkler Flyers, who recruited Dayn out of Ontario to play for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League team. Sutherland was Ed Belfour's coach when he played for Winkler in the '80s.

"Our evaluation of him was he was a goalie who deserved to be where he was," Sutherland said of Dayn. "I took one look at him and said to myself that I want that kid in Winkler."

Mark Thiessen, Ed Belfour's teammate at Winkler and Dayn's coach there, said Dayn made him do a double-take the first day he was on the team.

The team was on a bus, and Thiessen heard a familiar voice coming from the back.

"Dayn started talking, and I turned to Ernie and said, 'Is that Eddie back there?'" he said. "He sounded just like Ed did years and years ago. And then to see Dayn on the ice. Just the way he goes about things is the same as Eddie."

Dayn played three years in Winkler, and for part of that time the fans complained that he was given an unfair advantage over a local kid on the team because he was Ed Belfour's son (and the elder Belfour also was part owner of the team).

North Dakota, Minnesota State-Mankato and Bemidji State showed some interest in Dayn, but were wary of his academic situation. Dayn is a solid student, but he was ineligible his first year of college because of an NCAA rule that required him to finish high school in four years. He needed five years because he moved a number of times.

The Belfour name helped Dayn in this instance, because Blais was an assistant coach at North Dakota when Ed helped lead UND to the national championship in 1986-87. Blais also remembered Dayn from scouting Winkler.

"I thought he had a little bit of hot and cold in him," Blais said. "When he was hot, he was very, very good, capable of getting the shutout or one goal. Sometimes he'd have 45 saves, too. I'd seen him other games where he'd give up three or four weak ones. If you can play good one time, you can play that way all the time. Knowing Eddie, if Dayn was anything like him, the kid is going to have pretty good fundamentals."

Dayn said his father has always talked about goaltending technique and training and mentored him on other aspects of the games. Dayn also has watched every bit of video of his father that he can find.

Ed Belfour, who lives near Dallas and didn't respond to a message seeking an interview, attended a couple UNO games early in the season, but Dayn didn't play in either.

Dayn has appeared in four games, started three and has a 2.30 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.

Blais said Dayn is under consideration to start one or both games in this weekend's Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at North Dakota.

Dayn is ready for the inevitable comparisons when he shows up in Grand Forks with "Belfour" stitched to the back of his sweater with the No. 29, the same number his father wore at UND.

"One of these days I'll make a name for myself," Dayn said. "I want to be known as Dayn Belfour one day, not just Eddie's boy."

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