Women's hockey ranked second in WCHA coaches poll, name captains

Senior Alex Rigsby - Nicole Haase

The group that should arguably know them best disagrees with earlier national poll, says Badgers are better than NoDak.

After spending time justifying yesterday's USA Today/USA Hockey national rankings, these WCHA coaches rankings come as a bit of a shock.

Not only do the coaches think the Badgers are better thank the University of North Dakota, in complete opposition to the national poll, but the Badgers even received a first place vote. Before you think it - coaches do not vote for their own teams in this poll, so someone other than Mark Johnson thinks the Badgers are better than not only NoDak, but Minnesota heading into this season.

That's certainly uplifting news. Even better, it doesn't appear to be too much of a fluke. Points were awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale - Minnesota tops the poll with 49, but the Badgers are not far behind with 42.

Minnesota's freshman phenom Hannah Brandt (she'll be a sophomore this season) received the majority of the Player of the Year votes with 5, but Badger goalie Alex Rigsby received the other 3.

The always up-for-grabs preseason Rookie of the Year voting was spread among five players, with Minnesota's Dana Cameranisi garnering three votes to Wisconsin's Sarah Nurse's two. Three others each received a vote.

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Also out of Madison today, it was announced that Rigsby will serve as team captain in her senior season. Seniors Madison Packer and Kelly Jaminski and junior Blayre Turnbull were named assistant captains.

According to UWBadgers.com, this is the first time in program history that a goalie will serve as team captain.

Rigsby certainly deserves it - though we all think of Jessie Vetter, it's actually Rigsby that holds the UW record for career saves and most saves in a season. She's the only goalie to ever record more than 1,000 saves in a season and with 16 games played and nine wins this season, will become the career leaders in those categories, as well. She's also .001 behind in career save percentage - you'd have to imagine that's something she'll be working for as a point of pride.

Rigsby not making the U.S. Olympic team roster for Sochi was a bit of a surprise and I'd imagine she'll be playing with a bit of a chip on her shoulder. Badger fans certainly aren't disappointed she'll be in net for the Wisconsin instead of backing up Vetter all winter long. While I appreciate what an honor it would be for Rigsby, she's young and has time. Rigsby was already a spectacular goalie - a goalie who thinks she has something to prove could be something truly special to watch this season.

(Part of me will always be a little sad that Wisconsin lost Hilary Knight's "junior" year to the Olympics. I'm convinced that was her Patty year and she spent it playing for our country, instead. It was the right choice, but I'll always wonder "what if...")

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