Thursday reading: Mason Cup, Michigan, Denver, WCHA schedule

The Associated Press

The CCHA is wondering what will become of its league championship trophy, the Mason Cup.

Michigan’s No. 1 goalie may miss time for eye surgery.

Denver icon Daniel Ritchie is honored in this article about the presidential debate.

Here is a season preview for the WCHA women and for the Northern Michigan men.

Lake Superior State’s season gets underway this weekend.

This weekend’s WCHA exhibition schedule:

Games for Saturday, October 6: Brock University (ON) at Michigan Tech (EX), 7:07 pm ET; University of Lethbridge at Minnesota (EX), 7:07 pm CT; University of Manitoba at North Dakota (EX), 7:07 pm CT; * University of British Columbia at Denver (EX), 7:07 pm MT; USA Under-18 Team at Wisconsin (EX), 8:07 pm CT; # University of Regina at Alaska Anchorage (EX), 7:07 pm AT. * at Pepsi Center, Denver; # at McDonald Center, Eagle River, AK

Games for Sunday, October 7: University of Manitoba at Bemidji State (EX), 5:07 pm CT; University of Lethbridge at Minnesota State (EX), 5:07 pm CT; University of British Columbia at Colorado College (EX), 6:07 pm MT.

Games for Monday, October 8: University of Lethbridge at Nebraska Omaha (EX), 7:07 pm CT.

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.

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.

My WCHA preseason picks

Here are my preseason picks for the WCHA this 2012-13 season. Try not to laugh out loud. Remember prognostication mean nothing after Oct. 12.

Here goes:

The parity of the WCHA is best exemplified by the bottom three. All three will be quite tough at home when they can set up their best individual matchups against the visitors. Each will get at least one home win (two is likely) over a ranked opponent that will shake up the league standings.

12. Alaska-Anchorage – Three of the top four scorers are no longer with the Seawolves. That and the usual toll travel takes will wear down UAA, but not before knocking off a couple ranked visitors.

11. Bemidji State – Always a tough opponent, the Beavers will need more balanced scoring to complement returning leading scorer Jordan George and Ben Kinne; replacing graduated goalie Dan Bakala will be a tough task.

10. MSU-Mankato – New coach Mike Hastings will revitalize the program and could push the purple Mavs into home-ice contention for a while until depth becomes an issue. This program, like Bemidji State, will be a contender year in and year out in the new-look WCHA starting with the 2013-14 season.

Spots 4-9 should be pretty fluid throughout the season. I would not be shocked to see this portion of the list flipped depending on injuries and which teams see the most improvement from key players. Here is my best guess:

9. St. Cloud State – Seniors Ben Hanowski and Drew LeBlanc and junior Nic Dowd and Nick Jensen combine to lead a heralded group of underclassmen including Joe Benik. Opening at New Hampshire is a tough opener but home series against Alabama-Huntsville and Mankato should help the underclassmen get their feet under them. Depth may be an issue.

8. Minnesota-Duluth – The Bulldogs have some key contributors back from last season but replacing Hobey winner Jack Connolly, Travis Oleksuk, J.T. Brown and Brady Lamb’s 131 combined points will be a huge challenge. It feels wrong putting UMD so low, but a slow start with games against Ohio State (home), at Notre Dame, Wisconsin (home), at Nebraska Omaha and then at North Dakota is possible.

7. Nebraska Omaha – Too much offseason tumult with two top scorers leaving early for the pros and a heralded recruit heading to Canada instead.  If freshman goalie Anthony Stolarz is the real deal, then UNO could garner home ice. Goalie John Faulkner could ride to the rescue if Stolarz stumbles.

6. Michigan Tech – Mel Pearson turned the program around quickly. Now with good returning talent and more of his recruits in the mix, the Huskies should contend for home ice and flirt with the top 20 especially with a strong start against area rival Lake Superior State and a home series against Minnesota (keep an eye on this series).

5. Colorado College – The Tigers have some good freshmen forwards coming in; Cody Bradley and Hunter Fejes spring to mind. Jared Hanson looks strong. With solid goaltending and more offensive production from a larger defensive corps, this team should grind out a winning record and home ice.  How well the underclassmen and some key seniors perform will make a big difference in whether the Tigers finish in ninth or third place or somewhere in between.

4. Wisconsin – The Badgers have to replace Justin Schultz, but with 15 of 16 top scorers back including Mark Zengerle and some defensive improvement, UW could contend for the league title and an NCAA berth.

The top three have a slight edge over the teams designated 4-9 because of more returning talent and balance. The known positives carry a lot of weight in my mind.

3. Denver – This team has enough remaining offensive talent (Joey LaLeggia, Nick Shore, Shawn Ostrow, Ty Loney), physical defenders and impressive goalie depth (Sam Brittain, Adam Murray, Juro Olkinuora) to overcome having only three seniors (captain Chris Knowlton, Murray and practice goalie Zack Hope) on the roster. Freshman Quentin Shore should be a big help.

2. North Dakota – Remember Rocco Grimaldi? I do and with him back healthy, UND has the playmaker it needs to challenge for the league championship. Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney can produce points early if Grimaldi is slow to get back into form. Freshman Zane Gothberg and Huntsville transfer Clarke Saunders give UND good goaltending behind a solid defenseman corps (Nick Mattson, Dillon Simpson). The nonconference opener against Alaska-Anchorage just got a whole lot tougher because of those one-game suspensions. An early home series against Boston University will be a good measuring stick

1. Minnesota – Is any team more loaded with offensive talent with Erik Haula, Kyle Rau, Zach Budish, and Nick Bjugstad back? The only possible hiccup is the unproven goaltending.  I think former CC short-term backup Michael Shibrowski can take the step up into a starting role. I predict a fair number of 5-2 wins.

My preseason honorees:

F – Erik Haula, Minnesota

F – Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin

F – Rylan Schwartz, CC

D – Joey LaLeggia, Denver

D – Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State

G – Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College

ROY – Rocco Grimaldi, North Dakota

POY – Erik Haula, Minnesota

COY – Don Lucia, Minnesota

Wednesday reading: North Dakota, BSU, SCSU, Mankato

Two North Dakota players will be punished for minor in possession arrests. Former UND captain Mario Lamoureux signed with ECHL Ontario (Calif.).

The UND athletic department student employees produce a very good video about the past season for its fans that also serves as a teaser for the upcoming season.

Hockey East will expand its playoffs format starting in 2013-14.

Bemidji State held its Select A Seat promotion Tuesday night.

St. Cloud State rookie Joey Benik is expected to be an impact player for the Huskies.

MSU-Mankato continues to struggle to get state funding for much needed arena improvements.

Here’s my previous post with the NBC Sports Network’s college hockey broadcast scheduled, including a Jan. 4 date at Nebraska Omaha for Colorado College. Here is hoping CBS SN announces its schedule soon.

Saturday reading: SCSU renovations, OHL, fundraiser, Bemidji State

The renovations to the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud continue on schedule.

The Windsor Spitfires were punished harshly by the OHL for rules violations.

Here are more details, including that Kitchener, which is suing the student Michigan Daily newspaper, was found innocent by the OHL.

Toronto made it official by signing incoming Miami sophomore forward Tyler Biggs (17 points).

A fundraiser is planned for fallen Army hockey player Tom Kennedy, who was killed in Afghanistan. The link is within a blog post by 1989 and Counting.

Chicago Steel forward Charlie O’Connor has committed to Bemidji State.

Former Tiger Brian Connelly, pictured, and Wild teammate Tom Gilbert signed autographs at Bloomington Jefferson’s youth hockey registration.

Monday reading: WCHA schedule, J. Schwartz, Heil, Slavin, Roos

The WCHA announced its composite schedule last week. Here is the press release.

Some think former Tiger Jaden Schwartz will have a breakout year this coming season for St. Louis. Sportsnet.ca predicts the same.

CC fans will want to follow the Chicago Steel of the USHL. Three future Tigers — Christian Heil, Jaccob Slavin and Alex Roos — are on the junior team’s 2012-13 roster.

New SCSU assistant Garrett Raboin chose to leave his playing days behind with the arrival of his and his wife’s first child.

The first goalie to win the Hobey Baker is inducted into his hometown Hall of Fame.

The RPI fan blog put out a well-written and thoughtful take on the the Sandusky scandal and how it may affect Penn State and college hockey.

Saturday reading: Game stories, injury updates, Pairwise and other series to watch

Minnesota goalie Kent Patterson makes a save against UAA's Eric Scheid Friday, March 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. The Gophers won 2-1. JIM GEHRZ / THE STAR TRIBUNE VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here are game stories from Friday night’s action.

No. 12 seed Alaska-Anchorage got the goaltending it needed to pull off the upset at top seed Minnesota , just not enough offense, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

No. 2 seed Minnesota Duluth needed two goals off deflections and a 160-footer that started as a clearing attempt to hold off No. 11 MSU Mankato. Brady Lamb came up huge for the Bulldogs.

Both the Gophers and Bulldogs are locks for the NCAA Tournament even if their first-round foes eliminate them on Sunday. CC, Denver and North Dakota need to win their playoff series to get in, judging from the latest Pairwise rankings.

Wisconsin’s Sean Little picked a good time, 5:50 left in the third period, to score his second goal of the season at third-seeded Denver, which drew only 4,400 fans.

No. 4 seed North Dakota won its ninth playoff game in a row. Here are some notes.

No. 5 Colorado College played a sloppy game against a more determined eighth-seeded Michigan Tech Huskies squad, which played well defensively. Tigers sophomore wing Jeff Collett suffered an upper-body injury Friday and is out for the rest of the series. Defenseman Aaron Harstad looks to have recovered from the flu and will likely be in the lineup on Saturday.

No. 6 St. Cloud State scored three goals, usually a good sign for the Huskies, which downed No. 7 Nebraska Omaha 4-0, which ended a six-game losing streak to UNO.

Here’s the Hockey East links and for the CCHA. Judging from the Pairwise, which has CC at No. 19, Tiger fans should root for Miami to sweep No. 14 Michigan State, Maine to eliminate No. 17 Merrimack, Michigan to down No. 18 Notre Dame and Wisconsin to sweep No. 13 Denver (that ought to come naturally for you).

Here are the Friday game recaps from ECAChockey.com. Tiger fans want Union to run the table to get the automatic qualifier, saving one of the precious at-large bids for the NCAA.

And now, a great example of how close things are in playoff college hockey. Providence had two shots go off the post and another reversed by replay during overtime at UMass-Lowell, which later scored to tie the best-of-three series and force Game 3 tonight.

St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh has retired, citing continuing health concerns.

Friday reading: WCHA, national web site and blogger awards, previews

The WCHA announced its all-league honorees, including academics. Sophomore forward Jaden Schwartz was named to the second team as was senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel. Sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert was named as the third team goalie. Inexplicably, Rylan Schwartz was not honored.

The first annual All-WCHA Blogger awards were doled out this morning. The differences are interesting. Both Rylan Schwartz and Guentzel did not make the cut. Jaden Schwartz was a third team forward while Thorimbert moved up to second team netminder.

Whether you agree with the blogger list or not, thanks to Tradition of Excellence for compiling it. I doubt it was easy. The voters, which included me, are listed. I posted my ballot earlier this week.

USCHO announced its all-WCHA honorees as did College Hockey News. Inside College Hockey announced its all-WCHA team and playoff capsules here.

Here are more playoff series previews:

No. 12 seed Alaska Anchorage needs to make marked improvement in a number of areas if they hope to knock off top seed Minnesota at Mariucci. Nate Condon is one of the reasons why that still may not be enough for UAA.

No. 11 MSU Mankato is playing well and has a chance, albeit small, of returning to the Final Five with a series win at Minnesota Duluth, which is leaning on five rookies.

No. 10 Wisconsin will rely on Justin Schultz and Mark Zengerle at third-seeded Denver. Here’s a preview capsule. The Pioneers will platoon goalies this weekend with Juho Olkinuora starting on Friday.

No. 9 Bemidji State has quiet confidence headed into its series at fourth-seeded North Dakota, which has another nickname distraction brewing.

No. 8 Michigan Tech is hopeful that lessons learned from the regular-season finale at fifth-seeded Colorado College will pay off this weekend. The Tigers will need to play up to their potential to get a sweep and keep their Pairwise hopes alive.

No. 7 Nebraska Omaha hopes to reverse its downward trend at No. 6 St. Cloud State, which expects a physical series against the red Mavs.

Here are the Roman Empire’s predictions, including two series upsets.

Thursday reading: League honors, playoff notes, pros and women updates

CC sophomore goalie Josh Thorimbert shared co-defensive player of the week honors from the WCHA. He gets a rematch in this weekend’s playoff series. Here’s preview notes from the fifth seeded Tigers and Huskies.

North Dakota climbed from 11th to fourth by season’s end, giving them home ice against Bemidji State this weekend. Beavers coach Tom Serratore talks UND in this video.

The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, seeded second in the WCHA playoffs, dyed their hair blonde last seaosn and won a national title. They hope Mohawks do the trick this seasonHere are notes for the playoff series preview against MSU Mankato.

Top seed Minnesota hosts last-place Alaska Anchorage a year after the Seawolves upset the Gophers. No. 3 Denver hosts No. 10 Wisconsin while sixth seeded SCSU hosts Nebraska Omaha.

Former Tiger Brian McMillin played his 100th pro game last Friday. Nate Prosser reminisces about the Minnesota state hockey tournament.

Here’s Bruce Ciskie’s look at the WCHA playoffs with predictions and the Merrimack beat writer’s predictions for the Hockey East quarterfinals. Tiger fans should hope he was wrong about Merrimack advancing.

The Grand Forks Herald provides only a smidgen of information since injury updates are forbidden during playoff time.Here’s the latest on the Sioux nickname mess. Here’s Goon’s World All-WCHA blogger ballot.

Pine Creek graduate Emily West cracked the women’s top 10 in all-time points at Minnesota with 153 career points last weekend.

From the WCHA:

Playoffs, First Round – Best-of-Three

Games for Friday, March 9: (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:37 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:37 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:37 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:37 pm CT.

Games for Saturday, March 10: (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.

Games for Sunday, March 11 (if necessary): (12) Alaska Anchorage at (1) Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (11) Minnesota State at (2) Minnesota Duluth (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (10) Wisconsin at (3) Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (9) Bemidji State at (4) North Dakota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; (8) Michigan Tech at (5) Colorado College (NC), 7:07 pm MT; (7) Nebraska Omaha at (6) St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.