It was a somber CCHA media day this time around.
The 12 coaches of the conference mourned the loss of Maine coach Shawn Walsh, while talking about the rest of the tragedy that has befallen the nation.
But with practices starting up, the leaders of the CCHA agreed to honor their fallen comrades and then turn their heads towards hockey.
And once again at the top of the conference heap is defending champ Michigan State. The media picked the Spartans to repeat in the league, with all but four first-place votes.
Second place went to Michigan, which lost 11 players and has 10 freshmen.
Another team with tremendous losses from last year, Nebraska-Omaha, came in third. Last year’s second-place team, Miami, placed a surprising fifth, despite the fact that the RedHawks return almost every key element to their team — something that has given them the know-how for this season.
“I think that they know they can do it now,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said of his players’ confidence, stemming from last year’s success.
Alaska-Fairbanks came in dead last, a note that most coaches disagreed with.
“They’re not a 12th-place team,” Bowling Green coach Buddy Powers said.
In other news, the CCHA will debut a new 12-team playoff system, with six teams heading to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit for the CCHA Tournament; commissioner Tom Anastos received a five-year contract extension through 2007; and the coaches’ poll was disbanded this year after several coaches expressed a desire not to renew the poll.
2001-2002 CCHA Media Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses)
Rk Team Pts Last yr
1. Michigan State (22) 306 1st
2. Michigan (1) 273 3rd
3. Nebraska Omaha (1) 241 4th
4. Ohio State (1) 207 7th
5. Northern Michigan 184 5th
6. Miami (1) 182 2nd
7. Western Michigan 172 6th
8. Bowling Green 110 8th
9. Lake Superior 101 12th
10. Ferris State 98 7th
11. Notre Dame 90 11th
12. Alaska Fairbanks 64 10th