MADISON, Wis. For the last two seasons, the University of Wisconsin swept all sorts of awards in women’s collegiate hockey. It’s deja vu all over again. For the third straight season the eight member head coaches in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association have installed the defending national champions as the pre-season favorite for the league’s regular season championship in 2007-08.
Coach Mark Johnson’s Badgers, who finished 36-1-4 overall last year while winning the WCHA regular season and playoff championship before taking its second straight national championship, received seven of eight first-place votes and earned 49 points to finish atop the poll. (Points are determined on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis and coaches do not vote for their own team). The Badgers have posted a 72-5-5 record over the last two seasons while winning WCHA and national championships each of those seasons.
The University of Minnesota Duluth, which lost to the Badgers in the national championship game, was tabbed to finish second by the head coaches. Coach Shannon Miller, who finished second in 2006-07 and posted a 24-11-4 overall record, had one first place vote and 42 total points. The University of Minnesota finished third in this season’s pre-season coaches’ poll with 37 points. The Golden Gophers, who will be directed by first-year head coach Brad Frost, had a 23-12-1 record and placed third in the WCHA last season.
Ohio State University was picked to finish fourth in the poll with 31 points. The Buckeyes went 20-13-4 last season and finished in fourth place.
Rounding out the pre-season forecast by the head coaches were the Minnesota State University Mavericks (16-17-2), picked fifth (23 points), the St. Cloud State University Huskies (12-18-7), selected sixth (22 points), the Bemidji State University Beavers (11-20-5), chosen seventh (13 points), and the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux (3-31-2), chosen eighth (7 points). Like Minnesota, North Dakota also welcomes a new head coach this year as Brian Idalski, is in his first year as head coach.
The coaches selected Minnesota junior forward Gigi Marvin as the pre-season player of the year. Marvin, who scored 18 goals and had 20 assists for 38 points last season when she was named an all-WCHA player, received five votes in the balloting. Wisconsin’s junior goalie Jessie Vetter, an all-America last year when she compiled a goals-against average of 0.83, Wisconsin junior forward Erica Lawler and Ohio State senior defenseman Tessa Bonhomme, a second team all-American last season and finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, all received one vote.
The coaches chose Hilary Knight of Wisconsin as pre-season rookie of the year. The freshman forward from Hanover, N.H. received four votes, one more than Minnesota Duluth’s Haley Irwin, a forward from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Emily West of Minnesota, a freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo., also received one vote.
2007-08 WCHA Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Wisconsin (7) 49
2. Minnesota-Duluth (1) 42
3. Minnesota 37
4. Ohio State 31
5. Minnesota State 23
6. St. Cloud State 22
7. Bemidji State 13
8. North Dakota 7
Preseason Player of Year: Gigi Marvin, JR, F, Minnesota
Preseason Rookie of the Year: Hilary Knight, F, Wisconsin