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College Hockey:
Denver’s Cheverie, Gwozdecky Get Major Awards in WCHA

— Denver picked up two major awards and took half of the spots on the first team at the WCHA’s awards ceremony Thursday.

Goaltender Marc Cheverie is the league’s player of the year, and George Gwozdecky is the WCHA’s top coach.

Cheverie, forward Rhett Rakhshani and defenseman Patrick Wiercioch were first-team all-WCHA members, along with Wisconsin defenseman Brendan Smith and forwards Blake Geoffrion of Wisconsin and Jack Connolly of Minnesota-Duluth.

The league’s goaltending champion, Cheverie had a 2.05 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in league play. He leads the country in overall victories (24) and save percentage (.937).

“I think it’s the result of playing on a great team,” Cheverie said. “Anytime you’re on a first-place team, guys are rewarded.”

The coaching award is the fourth for Gwozdecky, joining honors in 1995, 2002 and 2005. The Pioneers spent the majority of the season ranked first or second in the country and won the WCHA’s MacNaughton Cup as regular season champion.

He’s won those awards with a variety of well-known assistant coaches like current Miami coach Enrico Blasi and current Rensselaer coach Seth Appert and longtime assistant Steve Miller.

“I think I’ve been very fortunate to have the kind of quality people on the coaching staff that just have made the program better and better and better and have made me look awful good at times,” Gwozdecky said.

Rakhshani earned the most points among voting for forwards; Smith had the most points overall.

North Dakota forward Danny Kristo was named the rookie of the year after he led freshmen with 10 goals in WCHA games this season.

Wisconsin’s Smith was named the league’s defenseman of the year. The junior led WCHA defensemen in goals (11), assists (18) and points (29) in league play.

Michigan Tech defenseman Eli Vlaisavlejevich earned honors as the league’s outstanding student-athlete. A Rhodes Scholarship candidate, the senior has a 4.0 grade-point average in Bio Medical Engineering.

The student-athlete award was selected by league faculty athletic representatives. The defensive award was chosen by a vote of the league’s 10 head coaches. All other awards were decided by a vote of 80 players, coaches, media and sports information directors — eight from each school.

Here is the full list of award winners:

First Team

Forwards: Rhett Rakshani, Denver; Blake Geoffrion, Wisconsin; Jack Connolly, Minnesota-Duluth.
Defensemen: Brendan Smith, Wisconsin; Patrick Wiercioch, Denver.
Goaltender: Marc Cheverie, Denver.

Second Team

Forwards: Justin Fontaine, Minnesota-Duluth; Ryan Lasch, St. Cloud State; Tyler Ruegsegger, Denver.
Defensemen: Ryan McDonagh, Wisconsin; Nate Prosser, Colorado College.
Goaltender: Brad Eidsness, North Dakota.

Third Team

Forwards: Michael Davies, Wisconsin; Joe Colborne, Denver; Garrett Roe, St. Cloud State.
Defensemen: Garrett Raboin, St. Cloud State; Chay Genoway, North Dakota.
Goaltender: Dan Dunn, St. Cloud State.

Rookie Team

Forwards: Danny Kristo, North Dakota; Craig Smith, Wisconsin; Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College.
Defensemen: Matt Donovan, Denver; Justin Schultz, Wisconsin.
Goaltender: Joe Howe, Colorado College.

Individual Award Winners

Player of the Year: Marc Cheverie, G, Denver
Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year: Eli Vlaisavljevich, D, Michigan Tech
Defensive Player of the Year: Brendan Smith, D, Wisconsin
Rookie of the Year: Danny Kristo, F, North Dakota
Scoring Champion: Rhett Rakhshani, F, Denver
Goaltending Champion: Marc Cheverie, G, Denver
Coach of the Year: George Gwozdecky, Denver


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