With the WCHA season dropping the puck for the first time this season on Friday it was high time for some preseason awards to come out. The conference released the preseason player of year and freshman of the year awards as well as the first team all-conference selections. In a shock to no one around these parts, the defending WCHA champion Wisconsin Badgers were selected by the WCHA coaches to be the best team in the conference.
.@BadgerWHockey tops the #WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll.— WCHA Women's Hockey (@WCHA_WHockey) November 16, 2020
https://t.co/p7ibGbaNrF#WeAreWCHA | #LeadersAndChampions pic.twitter.com/M2F71btCEG
Arch rival Minnesota was second and Ohio State was right behind them both in a close third. The Badgers (four) and Gophers (three) split all of the first place votes. Duluth, Bemidji State, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State rounded out the rest of the conference.
Daryl Watts, Wisconsin’s senior forward, was named WCHA Preseason Player of the Year, edging out Ohio State senior forward Emma Maltais, Duluth junior forward Gabbie Hughes and Minnesota senior forward Grace Zumwinkle.
Congrats to #Badgers Daryl Watts who was named the @WCHA_WHockey Preseason Player of the Year and @sophieshirley9 who was named to the preseason All-WCHA team pic.twitter.com/c6VBw1JcnQ— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerWHockey) November 16, 2020
Watts made the all-WCHA first team last season and was a second-team All-America selection while being a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which she won in 2018 while playing for Boston College, and leading the NCAA with 49 assists and 74 points (she had 25 goals if you don’t want to do the math).
Junior Sophie Shirley also made the all-WCHA preseason team, giving the Badgers two representatives on the six woman team.
F: Emma Maltais, Sr., Ohio State
F: Daryl Watts, Sr., Wisconsin
F: Sophie Shirley, Jr., Wisconsin
D: Ashton Bell, Sr., Minnesota Duluth
D: Emily Brown, Sr., Minnesota
G: Andrea Braendli, Jr., Ohio State
Senior defenseman Grace Bowlby received votes for the all-WCHA team but did not make the cut.
Minnesota freshman forward Abbey Murphy was almost a unanimous choice to be Freshman of the Year, however Badgers freshman forward Casey O’Brien did receive one vote.