Junior defenseman Mike Crowley of Minnesota was named the 1996-97 WCHA Player of the Year in balloting conducted among league coaches, media, sports information directors and team captains.
Crowley, who was also named to the All-WCHA First Team for the second year, is the first defenseman honored with the Player of the Year award since Minnesota-Duluth’s Tom Kurvers. Crowley tied for the league lead in scoring this season, the first blueliner to do so since Gopher Lou Nanne, in 1962-63.
The Rookie of the Year award went to UMD goaltender Brant Nicklin, who carried virtually all of his team’s minutes in net. He heads up the All-Rookie team, which also includes Toby Peterson of Colorado College; Dave Spehar and Ben Clymer of Minnesota; Bud Smith of Northern Michigan; and Curtis Doell of UMD.
Defensive Player of the Year, for the second straight season, was senior defenseman Eric Rud of Colorado College.
WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year was senior forward-defenseman Petri Gunther of Denver, who carries a 3.95 grade point average as a computer science major. Gunther is the first DU hockey player to be invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society.
North Dakota’s Dean Blais was named WCHA Coach of the Year for leading his Sioux to their first conference title in ten years. The Sioux finished fourth in the WCHA last season.
The All-WCHA First Team is as follows:
Name Pos Team Pts
Brian Swanson F Colorado College 346
Jason Blake F North Dakota 253
David Hoogsteen F North Dakota 215
Mike Crowley D Minnesota 332
Curtis Murphy D North Dakota 258
Steve DeBus G Minnesota 178
Named to the second team were Dave Paradise and Matt Cullen of St. Cloud; Mike Peluso and Rick Mrozik of Minnesota-Duluth; Eric Rud of Colorado College; and Kirk Daubenspeck of Wisconsin.
On the third team were Scaha Molin of St. Cloud; Ryan Kraft of Minnesota; Andre Savage of Michigan Tech; Dane Litke of North Dakota; Calvin Elfring of Colorado College; and Jim Mullin of Denver.