Thursday, October 2, 2008


Colorado College Picked to Repeat as WCHA Champions
in 2008-09 in Annual Grand Forks Herald WCHA Coaches' Poll
by Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald

Oct. 1, 2008

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - 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 Memorial 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.

North Dakota's Jason Gregoire and Minnesota 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.