One season after finishing 10th in the WCHA, the league's media contingent has picked the Badgers to finish 4th in the league. The annual poll conducted by Bruce Ciskie and 94X radio in Duluth includes 25 media members that cover the WCHA.
The University of Minnesota was the overwhelming favorite to win the league, receiving 24 of 25 first place votes. The Gophers won the league last season, and return a large percentage of scoring from last years club.
Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad was voted the pre-season player of the year. The power forward received 16 of the 25 votes. Wisconsin forward Mark Zengerle finished third in the voting, netting three votes of his own.
For (what I assume is) the first time in league history, there is a two-time pre-season rookie of the year. North Dakota freshman Rocco Grimaldi led the voting for the second time. Last season he took a medical red-shirt after injuring his knee early in the year. Wisconsin freshman Nic Kerdiles finished second in the voting with 5 votes.
Zengerle was one of three forwards voted to the pre-season All-WCHA team. The Wisconsin junior centerman was on 17 ballots. Bjugstad (20 votes), and Ben Hanowski from St. Cloud (8 votes) were the other forwards named to the pre-season All-WCHA team.
Joey LaLeggia from Denver (20 votes), and Nick Jensen from St. Cloud (9 votes) were top two vote producing defensemen.
Sam Brittain from Denver (7 1/2 votes), and Josh Thorimbert from Colorado College (7 1/2 votes) tied for the lead in goalie votes. Joel Rumpel from Wisconsin also received three votes of his own.
||First Place Votes
||St. Cloud State
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
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)
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)
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.