The WCHA preseason polls were released the other day, and, to my mind, there weren’t many surprises near the top.
North Dakota is a solid favorite for the MacNaughton Cup, Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State should be in the mix and Denver could be hanging around the top, even without a number of the players that made it successful over the last few years.
Before I get into what did surprise me, albeit mildly, here’s how I voted in the media poll, organized this year by Bruce Ciskie:
1. North Dakota
3. St. Cloud State
5. Bemidji State
8. Colorado College
10. Minnesota State
12. Michigan Tech
Player of the year: Chay Genoway, North Dakota
Rookie of the year: Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College
I thought either Bemidji State or Nebraska-Omaha would appear in the top half of the polls, but they traded off eighth and ninth.
Honestly, I think either one could end up in the top half of the standings, but I put Bemidji State at fifth because I think it has a great chance of carrying over what it accomplished last season. The Beavers have most of their scoring and both of their goaltenders back, and they shouldn’t be awed by the transition to the WCHA because they’ve played a lot of the teams over the last few seasons.
All in all, though, I had a lot of hesitation about hitting the send button on the e-mail with my ballot. I don’t really like where I had Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado College and UNO, but I had to settle on something.
I can’t remember putting a team that played in the last game of the season so low in the rankings the next year. Then again, I can’t remember a team losing quite as much as Wisconsin did over the summer.
Minnesota is a mystery to me. So much talent, but we’ve seen where that doesn’t always matter.
I think Colorado College is a middle-of-the-pack team this season, but I have in my mind that whenever I think that, the Tigers turn out to be pretty good.
And picking a Dean Blais-coached team for ninth just feels wrong.
But it’s done, and we can put away the polls until March, when we can all have a good laugh.
Now it’s on to picking the national top 20 for the first USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, which will be released on Monday. I know who I’m picking for first, but spots 2 through 20 are up for grabs.