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: North Dakota, Denver, Clarkson, Mankato

Here is a good look with videos at the potential of North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi, pictured, who missed most of last season with a knee patella split. Because the playmaker garnered a medical redshirt, he remains a rookie in the WCHA’s eyes and is a leading preseason candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Defenseman Ryan Mantha, son of the Minnesota North Stars’ Moe Mantha, has committed to North Dakota. Here are some details.

The University of Denver Magazine put out a short season preview focusing on the goaltending battle and the Pioneers’ need to develop more scoring from the returning forwards.

A Clarkson player will miss the first half of the season because of injuries suffered during an off-ice assault in Ottawa. Clarkson travels to CC for the teams’ season-opener Oct. 12-13.

Here are some notes on the MSU-Mankato 2012-13 roster.

Weekend reading: Kitchener settles, Bachman, Eidsness, Grimaldi

The Michigan Daily student newspaper printed a clarification about its story when it quoted an anonymous source that OHL Kitchener offered to pay Wolverines signee Jacob Trouba $200,000, ending the lawsuit. The Rangers do plan to sue the anonymous source once they find out who that is.

Here is a review of former Tiger Richard Bachman, pictured, and predicts his future with the Dallas Stars for the upcoming  2012-13 season.

Former North Dakota goalie Brad Eidsness retired to attend law school this fall. Congratulations to him.

The USA National Team Development Program team that competes in college exhibition games and in the USHL was announced. Only the three goalies and one defenseman are not committed to a college program.

North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi was interviewed recently on The Pipeline Show.

Wednesday reading: Grimaldi, Sioux vote, NCHC, Skating for Hope

According to the Grand Forks Herald, Rocco Grimaldi will be a freshman next season and eligible for WCHA rookie of the year.

The state’s voters have voted to eliminate the Sioux nickname in convincing fashion. No doubt there will be some more legal wrangling but it will be much harder for nickname supporters to keep up the fight now.

Yes: 113,684 (67.35%)

No: 55,114 (32.65%)

426/426 Precincts reporting.  A “Yes” vote retires the nickname.

Zach Parise may be looking at the Wild now that he is a free agent. I am not ready to buy that just yet. The Kings are more likely since they can expect to be a playoff contender.

Here are some good details from the NCHC postseason announcement, including a logo in the next three weeks and talk of a new league championship trophy.

The second “Skating for Hope” fundraiser is coming up.

Monday reading: UMass-Lowell lookahead, North Dakota news, NCHC recruits, Alaska youth hockey upgrade, CC graduation rate, Civitarese

Coach Norm Bazin, center, runs through drills with the UMass Lowell hockey team at the Tsongas Center last season. Bazin, hired last spring, wasted no time turning the program around. SUN / TORY GERMANN

Here’s a good look at the 2011-12 season in Hockey East with some good 2012-13 info on UMass-Lowell, coached by former Tiger assistants Norm Bazin and Jason Lammers, which returns its top three scorers and starting goalie for the game in Colorado Springs in October.

That looks to be a very challenging game to play a night after playing at Air Force. That promises to be a big weekend for Pairwise, even though it will only be the third weekend.

Brad Berry is the lead contender for the open North Dakota assistant’s job.

North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi skated for the first time on Friday as he recovers from his season-ending knee surgery

A SCSU recruit scored the game-winner to claim the RBC Cup (junior A national championship) in Canada.

A good offensive defenseman and Duluth recruit was named as the USHL Defenseman of the Year. Former Tiger Tom Preissing garnered the same award for the 1998-99 season.

UMD sent out a corrected 2012-13 hockey schedule that works around the BYU-Notre Dame football game, among other scheduling demands.

The formation of the Alaska Jr. Aces should help youth hockey development in Anchorage. Why should a Tiger fan care? Consider that CC has four Alaskans — Hunter Fejes, Jared Hanson, William Rapuzzi, and Scott Wamsganz — on its roster for 2012-13 and have had a few great Alaskan players (Brian Swanson, Joey Crabb spring to mind) over the years.

Regardless of who is on the roster, the Tigers take care of academics when you consider this story about the entire department’s student-athletes. Former Tiger David Civitarese is a great example of that.

The USHL championships series will go to a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday. There are no current CC commits playing at Waterloo or Green Bay.

Alaska-Fairbanks announced its 2012-13 schedule which includes it season opener against Air Force in the Anchorage tournament.

The AHL conference final series resume on Monday. Norfolk, which includes Colorado Springs’ Jeff Dimmen (one assist, two games) has a 2-0 lead over St. John’s while Oklahoma City and Toronto are tied at 1-1 in the West finals.