The North Dakota Fighting Sioux, who rallied in the second half of 2006-07 en route to a berth in the Frozen Four, are the coaches’ pick to top the WCHA this season.
UND earned seven of 10 first-place votes and 79 points for the top spot in the Grand Forks Herald preseason coaches poll. Last year’s regular-season and WCHA tournament champion, Minnesota, earned the remaining three first-place votes and 74 points for second place.
The top two picks in the poll have plenty of history, some very recent. Minnesota beat North Dakota in the Broadmoor Trophy title game last March, but UND took revenge with a victory over the Gophers two weeks later in the West Regional title game. That sent the Fighting Sioux to St. Louis for the national semifinals, where they lost to Boston College.
Rounding out the top five selections were Colorado College (55 points), Denver (53 points) and Wisconsin Badgers (52 points). St. Cloud State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State and Alaska-Anchorage formed the bottom half of the poll.
On this year’s roster, North Dakota sports 2007 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Ryan Duncan, who was picked as the league’s preseason player of the year with five votes from the coaches. Fellow Sioux players T.J. Oshie (three votes) and Taylor Chorney (one vote) were also named in the balloting, along with Minnesota’s Kyle Okposo (one vote).
Wisconsin freshman forward Kyle Turris was a nearly-unanimous selection for the preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year with nine of the 10 votes. North Dakota’s Evan Trupp earned the other ballot.
Grand Forks Herald WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll
Rk School (1st) Points
1 North Dakota (7) 79
2 Minnesota (3) 74
3 Colorado College 55
4 Denver 53
5 Wisconsin 52
6 St. Cloud State 43
7 Michigan Tech 41
8 Minnesota-Duluth 23
9 Minnesota State 19
10 Alaska-Anchorage 11
Preseason WCHA Player of the Year: Ryan Duncan, UND, 5; T.J. Oshie, UND, 3; Taylor Chorney, UND, 1; Kyle Okposo, Minn., 1
Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year: Kyle Turris, UW, 9; Evan Trupp, UND, 1