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.

Saturday reading: Slavin, more North Dakota suspensions, UND-Omaha outdoor game, Michigan Tech rookie, ECHL tickets

Photo from Slavin’s Twitter account.

The Carolina Hurricanes blog profiles 2012 draft pick Jaccob Slavin, a 2013 CC commit.  Plenty of good news for Tigers fans.

The Grand Forks Herald praises North Dakota for handing out those one-game suspensions. Later, more punishment to more players was handed out.

North Dakota fans are not pleased by the NCHC’s choice of Don Adam as director of officials. Oh well. He is well qualified.

Tickets for the Nebraska-Omaha vs. North Dakota outdoor game go on sale at 9 a.m. Mountain on Monday.

Alex Petain will be an important rookie forward for Michigan Tech this coming season.

Here is a WCHA season preview.

Tickets for the ECHL Colorado Eagles, which include former Tiger Arthur Bidwill, go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at ComcastTix.com or by calling 1-877-544-TIXX (8499) or 970-686-SHOT (7468).

North Dakota team party leads to one-game suspensions

North Dakota announced Tuesday morning that senior captain Andrew MacWilliam and assistant captains Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney were suspended for the opening game this season for violating program rules during a team party on Sept. 15. They will miss the opener Oct. 19 against Alaska-Anchorage at the Brice Alaska Gold Rush in Fairbanks.

Only 18 skaters, including 11 underclassmen, will be available according to the Grand Forks Herald, which also provides some context regarding an earlier underage drinking incident that may have set the stage for Tuesday’s punishment

Here is the school’s press release when the school announced additional team disciplinary measures including mandatory community service.

“The behavior in this situation was unacceptable,” North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison said in a statement. “Measures taken by the athletics department do not preclude possible additional measures by the department, or actions by the university or local and state authorities.”

 

 

Monday reading: UND captains, Tech commit, Stauber, Anastas

North Dakota announced that Andrew MacWilliam, pictured, will be the team captain for the 2012-13 season. Senior forwards Corban Knight, Danny Kristo and Carter Rowney were each named assistant captains.

Michigan Tech commit Dylan Steman is profiled by his hometown newspaper.

Robb Stauber is giving back to the Northland youth.

Spiros Anastas, who was a volunteer assistant last season at Western Michigan, was named general manager of the British Columbia Hockey League’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs, according to USCHO.

Saturday reading: AHL and ECHL playoffs, Crabb, coaches meetings, Air Force schedule, Penn State arena, Knight injury, DU captains

Former Tiger captain Nick Dineen showed off what he can do, especially on face-offs and down low, during his short amateur tryout with the ECHL's Elmira Jackals.

Former Tiger Nick Dineen’s first pro season is over. The Eastern No. 1 seed Elmira Jackals lost to No. 5 Florida 2-1  Friday night and the best-of-seven ECHL playoff series 4-1.

Elmira had led the series 1-0 on Dineen’s game-winner in Game 1. Dineen is now a free agent. I would expect him sign an AHL contract this summer.

Alaska, which includes Tim Hall and Brian Swanson, now leads Stockton, which plays Ryan Lowery, 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Saturday night in California.

Gabe Guentzel played in his first pro playoff game, a 3-2 loss for Syracuse. David Civitarese was a scratch for Hershey in its 3-1 loss. Kris Fredheim and Chad Rau’s No. 8 seed Aeros are down 2-0 in their series against Oklahoma City while Abbotsford, led by Brian Connelly, cruised past Milwaukee.

Colorado Springs’ Jeff Dimmen, a former Maine standout defenseman, is playing for the powerful Norfolk Admirals squad, which won its pro-hockey record 29th game in a row on Friday, a mark that is 11 games longer than any other winning streak ever recorded in any league since hockey was professionalized in 1904. CC fans may remember him for scoring the game-winner against the Tigers in the Florida College Classic during December 2008.

Joey Crabb received a respectable grade from the Toronto beat writer for his best NHL season.

This week’s national coaches’ meeting will have plenty of issues to discuss, including half-shields and the new conference alignments.

Construction on the new ice hockey arena for Penn State, which begins play as a Division I independent this October, began officially on Friday with a groundbreaking ceremony. Coach Guy Gadowsky, a CC alumnus, and two PSU players are interviewed in these videos.

Alaska-Anchorage announced its 2012-13 schedule which will include a game against Air Force in the Kendall Classic in Anchorage Oct. 13. The Falcons take on Alaska-Fairbanks at 3:07 p.m. Mountain on Oct. 12.

North Dakota’s Corban Knight played the last three months of the season with a broken hand.

Denver announced that junior defenseman Paul Phillips, who was an assistant this past season, will be the captain of the 2012-13 Pioneers.  Colorado Springs’ Chris Knowlton won the most improved award and will be an assistant captain along with Shawn Ostrow and Nick Shore.

Thursday reading: Pros updates, weekend preview notes

Mark Stuart has been a leader at every level of hockey he's played.

Former Tiger Mark Stuart, pictured at left playing for Team USA last summer, is profiled by the Winnipeg Jets while listing all his considerable accomplishments.

Getting replaced by Joey Crabb on your line is a good motivational tool for Leafs’ coaches. Crabb has made the most of his chance this season.

From the “Hockey is a Small World” department, here’s a story by the Post’s Mike Chambers linking two Avalanche teammates to their peewee days when they lost to two former Denver standouts and a former CC goalie named Richard Bachman.

Here’s Goon’s World’s weekly predictions and an injury update for Colorado College, which looks to have lost sophomore Michael Morin for the season with surgery on a broken right ankle.

Here’s the Gazette’s capsule preview for the home-and-home series between CC and Denver.

The Minnesota AD announced he will retire soon.

Former Mankato standout and Blues captain David Backes used his free time over the NHL All-Star Break to save three shelter dogs by flying them from Houston  to a no-kill shelter in St. Louis.

The City of Mankato is looking to invest some serious money into improving the Verizon Wireless Center. Great job by Shane Frederick finding that Backers story.

After some talk of the Blues trading the rights to current CC sophomore standout Jaden Schwartz, that rumor has been dispelled.

Michigan Tech is no longer anyone’s doormat.  The Huskies take on MSU-Mankato this weekend.

Here’s Denver’s weekly press conference video  featuring coach George Gwozdecky.

Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore discusses his team’s road series at Nebraska-Omaha in this video.

Alaska Anchorage has the unenviable task of hosting No. 1/2 Minnesota Duluth.

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves talks about his team’s home series against St. Cloud State.

North Dakota’s Corban Knight is the subject of the “Through These Doors” weekly video feature. UND is idle this week as are the No. 1/2 Gophers.

This Week in the WCHA …

Games for Friday, February 3: St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Bemidji State at Nebraska Omaha (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Michigan Tech at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:37 pm CT; Colorado College at Denver (WCHA), 7:37 pm MT; Minnesota Duluth at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.

Games for Saturday, February 4: Bemidji State at Nebraska Omaha (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Michigan Tech at Minnesota State (WCHA), 7:07 pm CT; Denver at Colorado College (WCHA), 7:07 pm MT; St. Cloud State at Wisconsin (WCHA), 8:07 pm CT; Minnesota Duluth at Alaska Anchorage (WCHA), 7:07 pm AT.