The defending NCAA champion North Dakota Fighting Sioux have been tabbed by the coaches of the WCHA as the conference’s preseason favorite.
The Fighting Sioux received six first-place votes and a total of 77 points in the annual polling.
Last year’s regular-season champions, the Wisconsin Badgers, got three first-place votes and 70 points to finish second in the poll. St. Cloud State received one first-place vote for 61 points and finished in a tie for third place with Minnesota.
Colorado College (54 points) was fifth, followed by Denver (37) and Minnesota State-Mankato (35) in sixth and seventh.
Alaska-Anchorage and Minnesota-Duluth each received 23 points to tie for eighth place, while Michigan Tech earned nine points to finish 10th.
WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll
1. North Dakota (6) 77
2. Wisconsin (3) 70
3. St. Cloud State (1) 61
5. Colorado College 54
6. Denver 37
7. MSU-Mankato 35
8. Alaska-Anchorage 23
10. Michigan Tech 9
WCHA coaches also voted Wisconsin sophomore Dany Heatley as the Preseason Player of the Year. The No. 2 pick by Atlanta in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft received 5 1/2 votes to finish one vote ahead of North Dakota senior forward Jeff Panzer.
The coaches also named their choices for Preseason Rookie of the Year. Connor James, a forward for Denver, and Minnesota forward Troy Riddle each received three votes. Peter Sejna, forward for Colorado College, received two votes, while defensemen David Hale (North Dakota) and Jeff Finger (St. Cloud State) received one vote each.