Rink and Run blog: UMD women picked to win WCHA

Defending Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season and playoff champion Minnesota Duluth is the pick of league coaches to win the 2011 regular-season title. Here is a release:...

Defending Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season and playoff champion Minnesota Duluth is the pick of league coaches to win the 2011 regular-season title. Here is a release:

Minnesota Duluth swept to the NCAA Division I championship in a memorable season last year and, according to a preseason poll of league coaches, the Bulldogs are the preseason pick to repeat and win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's title.

The Bulldogs, who shared the WCHA crown with Minnesota last season and won the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF before beating Cornell to win the national title, return 12 players and four players who competed in the Vancouver Olympics. UMD collected six first place votes and 48 points in the poll of the eight coaches.

Wisconsin, which returns two Olympians and Coach Mark Johnson who led the U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal, finished second with 43 votes, including two first place votes. Minnesota, with 37, was selected to finish third. Like UMD, Minnesota shared the 2010 WCHA title and qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Frozen Four last season.

Ohio State was picked to finish fourth, followed by North Dakota, Bemidji State, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State, Mankato.


Wisconsin's junior forward Hilary Knight, a member of the U.S. Olympic team last season, received six votes and is the coaches' pick to be preseason player of the year. An AHCA Division I First Team All-American as a sophomore, Knight was also the WCHA Player of the Year and a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 finalist in 2008-09. North Dakota's Monique Lamoureux-Kolls,  Knight's teammate on the U.S. Olympic team,  also received a vote.

Minnesota's forward Amanda Kessel, whose brother Phil played with the Gophers and is currently with the Toronto Maple Leafs, received six votes and is the coaches' choice as preseason rookie of the year while Wisconsin goalie Alex Rigsby received a vote and the Badgers' Madison Packer and Brittany Ammerman, both forwards, had a half vote each.

WCHA Coaches Poll

1. Minnesota Duluth (6 first place votes) 48 points

2. Wisconsin (2) 43

3. Minnesota 37

4. Ohio State 30

5  North Dakota 27


6  Bemidji State 17

7. St. Cloud State 13

8. Minnesota State, Mankato 9

(Coaches could not vote for their own teams in poll and points were awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system)

Player of year: Hilary Knight, Wisconsin, 7; Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, North Dakota,, 1

Rookie of year: Amanda Kessel, Minnesota, 6; Alex Rigsby, Wisconsin; Packer  Madison, Wisconsin ½ vote and Brittany Ammerman, Wisconsin,  ½ vote.

WCHA play begins this weekend with four exhibition games.  Bemidji State hosts the Toronto Jr. Aeros Friday night and North Dakota entertains the same Toronto team Saturday. The University of Manitoba plays St. Cloud State Saturday at the National Hockey Center and faces Minnesota Sunday afternoon at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

The first regular season action will occur the weekend of Oct. 1-3. Wisconsin will host Rensselaer Oct. 1-2 at the Kohl Center while North Dakota entertains Hockey East favorite Boston University Oct. 2-3 at Ralph Englestad Arena. Three WCHA teams open the season on the road: St. Cloud is at highly-touted Mercyhurst; Minnesota goes to Clarkson and Bemidji State visits Wayne State.


UMD plays its exhibition opener against the Minnesota Whitecaps on Oct. 2 and Ohio State hosts Wilfrid Laurier in an exhibition Oct. 2 and plays it non conference opener at Robert Morris Oct. 8-9. Minnesota State opens its season by hosting Niagara Oct. 8-9

League plays starts Oct 8 when Wisconsin hosts Bemidji State and UMD goes to North Dakota. The series finale in both series will be Oct 10.

The battle for the 2010-11 WCHA regular season championship will again consist of a 28-game schedule for each of the league's eight clubs, with each team playing the other seven four times - twice at home and twice on the road. During the course of the season, there will be a total of eight weekends that will consist of all eight member teams engaged in WCHA play. The league schedule concludes Feb. 19.

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