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Men's hockey: Colorado College picked to repeat

The opinions of Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches varied greatly when it came to picking a preseason rookie of the year and a preseason player of the year.

The opinions of Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches varied greatly when it came to picking a preseason rookie of the year and a preseason player of the year.

There's one thing the coaches can pretty much agree on, though: Colorado College is still the team to beat.

The defending MacNaughton Cup champion Tigers received eight first-place votes and are picked to finish first in the 38th annual Grand Forks Herald WCHA preseason coaches poll.

UND received two first-places and is projected to finish second, followed by Denver. Minnesota and Wisconsin are tied for fourth.

"I think a lot of it is based on last year," Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. "I think the strength for us is going to be in our quality depth at forward. We also have five of the six guys who played regularly for us on defense back and all three goalies.


"I think everyone is excited to get back at it. It's an older team with good leadership."

The bottom five projected teams, in order, are St. Cloud State, Minnesota State-Mankato, Minnesota-Duluth, Michigan Tech and Alaska-Anchorage.

"I think CC is an improved team from last year, and they were a great team last year," UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "I think every team in the league can say they've found ways improve. What a heck of a league we have."

What perhaps best demonstrates the league's outstanding talent level this year is the coaches' votes for player of the year and rookie of the year.

UND's Ryan Duncan has a Hobey Baker Award sitting in his attic, but he didn't receive a single vote for preseason player of the year. Denver's Joe Colborne was the Canadian Junior A Player of the Year and the highest-drafted freshman in the country (first round, 16th overall), but he didn't receive a single vote for preseason rookie of the year.

Those honors went elsewhere.

Colorado College sophomore goaltender Richard Bachman is the preseason player of the year, getting three votes. St. Cloud State forward Ryan Lasch got two, as did Minnesota-Duluth goalie Alex Stalock and Denver forward Tyler Bozak. CC's Chad Rau got one vote.

UND's Jason Gregoire and Duluth's Jack Connolly are the co-preseason rookies of the year. Both players received three votes, while Minnesota rookies Aaron Ness and Jordan Schroeder each got two.


"That signifies how good players are in the league," Hakstol said. "The bottom line is that six months from now, we'll know who's had the best year. It'll be the guy who stays focused throughout the year and gets the job done night in and night out. And it will be whichever team rises to the occasion."

Hakstol said expectations are high within UND's locker room.

"And they should be," he said. "We're at a good starting point. We had a very good month of conditioning and a very good month of September. We should be going into our first official practices on Saturday fairly healthy. That's a good place to start.

"We've got good, veteran leadership and the younger guys seem to be making good adjustments."

Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to bschlossman@gfherald.com .

38th annual Herald

WCHA coaches poll

1. Colorado College (8) 78


2. UND (2) 67

3. Denver 62

4. (tie) Minnesota 53

4. (tie) Wisconsin 53

6. St. Cloud State 48

7. MSU-Mankato 38

8. Minn.-Duluth 24

9. Michigan Tech 14


10. Alaska-Anchorage 13

Preseason player of the year votes

3 -- Richard Bachman, G, Colorado College

2 -- Tyler Bozak, F, Denver

2 -- Ryan Lasch, F, St. Cloud State

2 -- Alex Stalock, G, Minn.-Duluth

1 -- Chad Rau, F, Colorado College

Preseason rookie of the year votes


3 -- Jason Gregoire, F, UND

3 -- Jack Connolly, F, Minnesota-Duluth

2 -- Aaron Ness, D, Minnesota

2 -- Jordan Schroeder, F, Minnesota

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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