Bemidji State was named as the men’s favorite this season in College Hockey America’s annual preseason coaches’ poll.
The Beavers, who tied for third last season and finished 14-14-8 overall, were the tournament runners-up after falling to Wayne State in the CHA Championship. They return eight of their top ten scorers from a year ago along with goaltender Grady Hunt.
BSU received five of a possible six first-place votes. The other vote went to Niagara, tabbed for second place by the coaches — the same position in which the Purple Eagles finished last season.
The 2003 regular season champion, Alabama-Huntsville, was chosen third, followed by defending tournament titlist Wayne State.
Findlay and Air Force rounded out the poll in fifth and sixth respectively.
The coaches also selected a preseason All-CHA Team, dominated by Bemidji with three players — forward Andrew Murray, defenseman Bryce Methven and goaltender Hunt. Also named to the team were two players from UAH, forward Jared Ross and defenseman Jeremy Schreiber, and Niagara forward Joe Tallari.
Tallari was voted as the preseason CHA Player of the Year. He led the league with 26 goals and 55 points in 34 games and ranks as a possible candidate for the Hobey Baker Award.