CC foe Cornell garners second in ECAC preseason poll; Clarkson 10th

ALBANY, N.Y. — Union, coming off a magical season which it claimed its second consecutive ECAC Hockey regular-season title and first-ever league tournament crown and first-ever trip to the Frozen Four, was selected atop in the 2012-13 ECAC Hockey Men’s Coaches’ Preseason Poll according to voting by the league coaches in the annual poll.

The Dutchmen, led by reigning Tim Taylor award recipient as the league’s Coach of the Year Rick Bennett, garnered a total of 118 points, including eight of 12 first-place votes. Union, which led all NCAA Division I teams in scoring defense last season totalling 1.83 G/GM, returns its top netminder Troy Grosenick, who earned the Ken Dryden Award last season as the league’s top netminder. The Dutchmen shattered a school record by surrendering just 75 goals in 41 contests. Establishing a strong defensive corp, the Dutchmen have allowed fewer than three goals per game in five consecutive seasons.

Seeking its eighth trip to the NCAA tournament in the last 11 years, Cornell, which hosts CC Oct. 26-27, claimed three first-place votes in finishing second in the poll. The Big Red, who are led by head coach Mike Schafer, who enters his 18th-season behind the bench, return eight of their top 10 scorers from last season, amassed 110 total points.

Harvard, which set an NCAA record earning 11 ties last season, is slotted to finish third in regular-season play according to the voting by the coaches. Head coach Ted Donato’s squad compiled 98 points, including one first-place vote in the annual poll. Quinnipiac, coming off its 11th 20-win season on the NCAA Division I level, ranks fourth in the preseason poll with 93 points; Yale occupies the fifth slot with 77 points, followed by St. Lawrence, guided by first-year head coach Greg Carvel, with 61 points.

Dartmouth sits in the No. 7 spot with 58 points, while Rensselaer under head coach Seth Appert comes in the No. 8 position with 46 points. Colgate was selected in the No. 9 position in the preseason coaches’ poll under veteran head coach Don Vaughan with 45 points and Clarkson came in the tenth spot with 41 points. CC opens the season at home against the Knights on Oct. 12-13.

Princeton, led by second-year head coach Bob Prier is the No. 11 team in the poll, while Brown, under Brendan Whittet comes in at No. 12 in the poll.

The men’s season opens Saturday, October 6 with two non-conference games when Union hosts Merrimack and Quinnipiac travels to Maine. Three other ECAC Hockey schools will face-off in exhibition affairs on this evening as well with Rensselaer taking on Acadia at Houston Field House; St. Lawrence welcoming Carleton to Appleton Arena; and Colgate skates against Queen’s in Hamilton.

Wednesday reading: Prospects game, WMU, SCSU, Tech, Miami

The days when the NHL ignored American players are over judging from the 100 scouts in Buffalo this week for Saturday’s All-American Prospects Game on Saturday.

Western Michigan players received their CCHA tournament championship rings.

St. Cloud State added two defenseman recruits as did Michigan Tech and Miami.

From Colorado Springs Corp. …

It’s a tradition at the annual Sports Corp College Ice Hockey Face Off Luncheon that the two coaches, Frank Serratore of Air Force and Scott Owens of Colorado College, alternate going first and second with their presentations about the upcoming season.

Serratore will lead off this year at the Thursday, Oct. 4 Noon luncheon at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, and though he may not reveal everything about his 2012-2013 Falcons, he has a team returning that should be another power to be reckoned with nationally.

Serratore enters his 16th season at Air Force with a 255-250-51 record at the Academy. He has an overall mark of 304-342-60 in 19 seasons as a college head coach.

Not only has Serratore turned the Falcon program around, he has turned it into a legitimate national contender with five conference championships and five NCAA appearances in the last six years.

National Collegiate Hockey Conference Commissioner Jim Scherr will open the program with a look at the new league that opens play in the 2013-2014 season. Scherr and his staff being assembled are in place in their new headquarters offices adjacent to the Sports Corp at the Copper Building on the grounds of El Pomar’s Penrose House.

Both squads open at home right after the lunch with exhibition games against the University of British Columbia. The Tigers face UBC at the Colorado Springs World Arena on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 6:07 p.m. and the Falcons host the Thunderbirds on Monday, Oct. 8 at the Cadet Ice Arena.

The two local foes get to know each other early this year, with Air Force hosting the Tigers on Friday night, October 19 at the Cadet Ice Arena. The teams play only once this season.

Both coaches have a lot to talk about related to tough schedules and their top returning players, mixed in with a few outstanding freshmen who will play.

The Tigers finished 18-16-2 last season (5th in the WCHA), while the Falcons went 21-11-7, won their conference title, then lost to eventual NCAA Champion Boston College, 2-0, in the regional.

It’s the final season for the Tigers in the WCHA, with CC entering the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) in the 2013-2014 season with Nebraska-Omaha, Denver, Miami (O), North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.

TICKETS: $25.00 for Sports Corp Members and AFA or CC Booster Club Members with ID. $35.00 for all others.

TABLES (10 Seats): $250.00 for Sports Corp Members or AFA/CC Boosters; $350.00 for all others.

RESERVATIONS: Contact Cara Jorgensen at the Sports Corp (719) 634-7333, ext. 1007, or by e-mail: cara@thesportscorp.org

CC picked 7th, Thorimbert shares goalie honor in WCHA media poll

Compiled and written by Bruce Ciskie, KZIO Radio/Bulldog Radio Network …

A year after surprising many by winning the WCHA’s MacNaughton Cup Championship, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are a nearly-unanimous pick of WCHA media to win the league. The annual 94X WCHA Preseason Media Poll, released Wednesday, shows the Gophers easily outdistancing the rest of the league.

A panel of 25 members of the WCHA media voted on a predicted order of finish, along with a handful of individual honors.

Minnesota received a whopping 24 of 25 first-place votes. Defending WCHA playoff champion North Dakota had the other first-place vote and finished a distant second. Denver came in third, followed by Wisconsin and Minnesota Duluth. St. Cloud State claimed the final “home-ice” position in the preseason balloting.

Minnesota junior forward Nick Bjugstad, pictured, was a runaway choice for the Preseason Player of the Year. He also anchors the media’s second annual Preseason All-WCHA Team, where he is joined at forward by Wisconsin junior Mark Zengerle and St. Cloud State senior Ben Hanowski. The defensemen on the team are Denver’s Joey LaLeggia and Nick Jensen of St. Cloud State. Sam Brittain of Denver and Josh Thorimbert of Colorado College tied for the goaltending nod.

For the second straight year, the media chose North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi as Preseason Rookie of the Year. Grimaldi took a redshirt after an injury-ravaged season, and he is again eligible for rookie honors.

Teams were scored under a standard system of 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for second, and so on. The number listed with each team is the number of points that team averaged per vote.

94X WCHA PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Minnesota (24 first place votes) … 11.92 poll average

2. North Dakota (1) … 10.76

3. Denver … 9.92

4. Wisconsin … 7.8

5. Minnesota Duluth … 6.88

6. St. Cloud State … 6.84

7. Colorado College … 6.08

8. Nebraska Omaha … 5.48

9. Michigan Tech … 5.2

10. Minnesota State … 3.6

11. Bemidji State … 2.48

12. Alaska Anchorage … 1.04

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Nick Bjugstad, forward, Minnesota (16 votes)

Others receiving more than one vote: Erik Haula, forward, Minnesota (4); Mark Zengerle, forward, Wisconsin (3)

PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rocco Grimaldi, forward, North Dakota (8 1/2 votes)

Others receiving more than one vote: Nic Kerdiles, forward, Wisconsin (5); Jordan Schmaltz, defenseman, North Dakota (2 1/2); Brady Skjei, defenseman, Minnesota (2); Andy Welinski, defenseman, Minnesota Duluth (2)

PRESEASON ALL-WCHA TEAM

Forwards

Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (20 votes); Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin (17); Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State (8)

Others receiving more than one vote: Danny Kristo, North Dakota (7); Erik Haula, Minnesota (6); Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College (5); Corban Knight, North Dakota (3)

Defensemen

Joey LaLeggia, Denver (20 votes); Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State (9)

Others receiving more than one vote: Nate Schmidt, Minnesota (7); Wade Bergman, Minnesota Duluth (3)

Goalie

Sam Brittain, Denver and Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College (7 1/2 votes each)

Others receiving more than one vote: Juho Olkinuora, Denver (3), Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin (2)

The following media members took part in the 94X Preseason Media Poll:  David Ahlers, KKAR Radio/University of Nebraska-Omaha; Stephen Anderson, Daily Mining Gazette; Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal; Tyler Buckentine, USCHO.com; Mike Chambers, Denver Post; Bruce Ciskie, KZIO Radio/Bulldog Radio Network; Chris Dilks, Western College Hockey; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; John Gilbert, WCHA.com; Kurt Haider, KENI Radio; Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times; Dirk Hembroff, WKMJ Radio; Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer; Ken Landau, 103.9 FM The Eagle Radio; Don Lyons, Leighton Broadcasting/St. Cloud; Todd Milewski, USCHO.com; Dan Myers, Minnesota Hockey Magazine; Jess Myers, 1500ESPN.com; Joe Paisley, Colorado Springs/Colorado College; Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune; Chris Peters, United States of Hockey; Brian Posick, WIBA Radio/Badger Radio Network; Chad Purcell, Omaha World Herald; Brad Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald; Jay Stickney, 102.3 ESPN Radio.

In the pros: Lowery signs with South Carolina

Former CC captain Ryan Lowery signed a contract with ECHL South Carolina, joining former college teammate Tyler Johnson.

From the press release …

Lowery, 24, heads into his second professional campaign after splitting last season between the Stockton Thunder and the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.

The Inverness, Ill. native appeared in 22 games with the Thunder picking up seven points (1g-6a) and 28 contests with the Barons adding seven points (1g-6a).

In 2011, he appeared with the Edmonton Oilers in the YoungStars Tournament.

Before going pro, Lowery completed a four-year collegiate career at Colorado College totaling seven goals and 39 assists for 46 points in 152 games and served as captain his senior season.

CBS Sports Network announces WCHA-free schedule

From CBS …

Starting on Nov. 15, CBS Sports Network will be kicking off its 10th season of college hockey coverage that will feature some of the top teams across the country from the Hockey East, CCHA, and Atlantic Hockey conferences.

No WCHA games are scheduled.

The slate features three games between top-15 teams, including the debut game between Notre Dame and Michigan.

Other key games include Western Michigan (No. 11) taking on Michigan on Dec. 14, as well as Ferris State (No. 14) taking on Notre Dame (No. 10) on Jan. 25.

The complete 18-game schedule of games as as follows:

Nov. 15: Notre Dame at Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET)

Nov. 30: Vermont at Maine (8 p.m. ET)

Dec. 8: Maine at Boston University (8 p.m. ET)

Dec. 14: Western Michigan at Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET)

Jan. 4: Robert Morris at Army (7:30 p.m. ET)

Jan. 5: Merrimack at Vermont (7:30 p.m. ET)

Jan. 12: Army at Air Force (6 p.m. ET)

Jan. 19: Alaska at Notre Dame (7 p.m. ET)

Jan. 25: Ferris State at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET)

Feb. 8: Michigan at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m. ET)

Feb. 10: Providence at New Hampshire (4 p.m. ET)

Feb. 15: Notre Dame at Miami (7:30 p.m. ET)

Feb. 22: Notre Dame at Western Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET)

Feb. 23: New Hampshire at Vermont (4 p.m. ET)

Feb. 24: Boston College at Merrimack (4 p.m. ET)

Mar. 1: Ferris State at Michigan (7 p.m. ET)

Mar. 3: UMass-Lowell at Merrimack (4 p.m. ET)

Mar. 8: Boston University at Northeastern (7:30 p.m. ET)

Along with the 18-game TV schedule, CBSSports.com will also be releasing a College Hockey Power 10 ranking the top teams in the country and a Hobey Baker Award watch.

Air Force picked to win AHA championship

2012-13 Atlantic Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll

Air Force (8) – 112
Niagara (3) – 101
Mercyhurst – 89
Bentley – 87
RIT – 87
Holy Cross – 74
Connecticut – 65
Robert Morris (1) – 61
Canisius – 38

“I wish winning the league was as easy as winning the coaches’ poll,” AFA coach Frank Serratore said. “The bottom teams have gotten so much better. There are no ‘gimmes.’”

CBS Sports Network will broadcast two AHA games including Sat., Jan. 12, Army at Air Force.

Air Force and Army are no stranger to the national scene as they have faced each other for the past six seasons on CBS Sports Network. The game will mark the 14th time in the last seven years that Air Force hockey has appeared on national television.

“Our players are thrilled about being able to play on national television,” said Serratore.  “I am excited for the opportunity to showcase one of the greatest rivalries in college hockey, those fans who have never seen an Air Force-Army hockey game are in for a special treat”

“Once again we are looking forward to playing Air Force on national TV,” states Army coach Brian Riley. “It’s a game that is played with a passion and intensity that is hard to match in college hockey. This rivalry is one of the best in all of college sports. I expect that it will be a great game not only for the people who will be in the stands to watch but it will also be great for people around the country to view on national TV.”

Here are more details including this quote from AFA coach Frank Serratore:

Tuesday reading: Picks, Clarkson, Mankato, OHL, Hockey East

Here is the Mankato beat writer’s preseason picks which has CC in seventh and Josh Thorimbert, pictured, as the preseason first team goalie. Here is my take.

Here is Bruce Ciskie’s WCHA preseason picks. Thanks to him for compiling the poll. The Western College Hockey Blog also weighs in.

Clarkson junior forward Ben Sexton is the catalyst for the Knights’ offense. CC opens against Sexton and his teammates Oct. 12-13.

Mankato has a high-skill center coming in in Latvian native Teddy Blueger.

The OHL lowered the fine it levied against the Windsor Spitfires.

The NCAA women’s season will soon be underway.

Defending NCAA champion Boston College was chosen by the Hockey East media to repeat as regular season champion for 2012-13 in the third annual poll of the Hockey East Writers & Broadcasters Association.

The Eagles received 21 of a possible 25 first-place votes. Last year’s regular season runner-up, Massachusetts-Lowell, finished second in the balloting and received three first-place votes.

CC hosts UMass-Lowell on Oct. 20.

Boston University was picked third, followed by New Hampshire and Providence. Maine came in sixth, just behind the Friars, and received the remaining first-place vote.

CC hosts UNH on Nov. 23. Here is a capsule look at the Wildcats.

Merrimack, Northeastern, Massachusetts and Vermont rounded out the remaining four spots in the poll.

The media once again selected a preseason All-Hockey East Team. Because of a tie in the balloting at forward, four forwards were named this year. The four were Joey Diamond (Sr., Maine), 2012 NCAA Tournament MVP Johnny Gaudreau (So., Boston College), Matt Nieto (Jr., Boston University) and last year’s Hockey East Rookie of the Year, Scott Wilson (So., Massachusetts-Lowell).

Garrett Noonan (Jr., Boston University) and Chad Ruhwedel (Jr., Massachusetts-Lowell) were named on defense. Parker Milner (Sr., Boston College) was the choice of the media in goal.