In a surprise to no one who follows hockey even a little bit, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team was picked to win the WCHA Conference this season according to the league’s coaches. You aren’t allowed to vote for your own team, but Wisconsin got all seven other votes while Mark Johnson was forced to vote for Ohio State.
Here are the full preseason rankings:
- Wisconsin (7) - 49 points
2. Ohio State (1) - 40 points
3. Minnesota - 37 points
4. Minnesota Duluth - 34 points
5. Minnesota State - 25 points
T6. Bemidji State - 16
T6. St. Cloud State - 16
8. St. Thomas - 7
The Badgers have won the WCHA regular season championship in back-to-back seasons, and will be looking to complete the trifecta this season.
A number of individual awards were also predicted on Thursday. Daryl Watts was picked as the preseason WCHA Player of the Year for the second straight season.
Watts had an outstanding 2020-21 season with a top-three finalist for the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, she was named USCHO Player of the Year, First Team All-American, WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Forward of the Year, WCHA Scholar Athlete and All-WCHA First Team. Watts also led the WCHA in goals, points, game-winning goals and plus/minus.
There was a three-way tie for WCHA Rookie of the Year, which includes two Badgers: forward Sarah Wozniewicz (Cochrane, Alberta) and forward Marianne Picard (Repentigny, Quebec). The All-WCHA team consists of Watts (duh), forward Sophie Shirley and defenseman Grace Bowlby. Duluth’s Gabbie Hughes, Minnesota’s Emily Brown and Ohio State’s Andrea Braendli round out the team.
Wisconsin begin its season with a non-conference series at Lindenwood on September 24 and 25. The team’s WCHA season starts October 9 as Wisconsin hosts St. Cloud State for a Saturday-Sunday series at LaBahn.