Bulldogs’ Lessard Claims WCHA POTY Honors

Junior Lessard, who tied for the WCHA scoring title while leading the offense for resurgent Minnesota-Duluth, was named the conference’s Player of the Year Thursday.

Lessard, a senior winger from St. Joseph deBeauce, Que., totaled 39 points in league play and had a nation-best 55 points overall entering the WCHA Final Five. He was the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week three times during the regular season.

Also Thursday, Denver defenseman Ryan Caldwell was honored as the Defensive Player of the Year, and North Dakota winger Brady Murray earned league Rookie of the Year honors.

From Deloraine, Man., Caldwell is the Pioneers’ team captain and one of the top-scoring defensemen in college hockey while averaging 28 minutes per game including extensive power-play and penalty-killing time.

Murray, a native of Brandon, Man., led WCHA rookies with 31 points in league play and 42 points overall. He was also named to the all-conference third team.

Minnesota-Duluth bench boss Scott Sandelin was named WCHA Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a second-place finish and a 25-11-4 overall record coming into the weekend. The No. 4 Bulldogs also enjoyed a school-record 14-game unbeaten streak this season. Sandelin took over the coaching duties at UMD in 2000-01 after serving for six seasons as assistant coach at North Dakota.

Connor James of Denver was named Student-Athlete of the Year. Apart from scoring 147 career points, James has earned a 3.5 grade-point average in finance and marketing, is a three-time WCHA All-Academic Team honoree, has volunteered his time with the DU Youth Hockey Association and Starlight Children’s Foundation, and visits local schools to promote good grades while participating in sports.

Among the All-WCHA teams, repeat honorees included forward Brandon Bochenski (North Dakota), who went from second to first team; forward Zach Parise (UND), who went from third to first team; defenseman Keith Ballard (Minnesota), who went from second to first team; forward Thomas Vanek (Minnesota), who made the second team for the second straight year; goaltender Isaac Reichmuth (UMD), who went from third to second team; and forward Shane Joseph (Minnesota State).

Voting for the WCHA’s annual postseason awards is done by member coaches, players, sports information directors and media.

Following are the All-WCHA teams:

2003-04 All-WCHA First Team
Pos Name Team Hgt Wgt Yr Hometown Pts
F Junior Lessard Minnesota-Duluth 6-0 195 Sr St. Joseph deBeauce, Quebec 379
F Brandon Bochenski North Dakota 6-2 195 Jr Blaine, Minnesota 359
F Zach Parise North Dakota 5-11 180 So Faribault, Minnesota 310
D Keith Ballard Minnesota 5-11 208 Jr Baudette, Minnesota 346
D Beau Geisler Minnesota-Duluth 6-0 190 Sr Coleraine, Minnesota 239
G Bernd Bruckler Wisconsin 6-9 190 Jr Graz, Austria 300

2003-04 All-WCHA Second Team
P Name Team Hgt Wgt Yr Hometown Pts
F Chris Conner Michigan Tech 5-7 175 So Westland, Michigan 262
F Thomas Vanek Minnesota 6-2 207 So Graz, Austria 159
F Evan Schwabe Minnesota-Duluth 5-9 155 Jr Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan 115
D Ryan Caldwell Denver 6-3 195 Sr Deloraine, Manitoba 238
D Matt Jones North Dakota 6-0 218 Jr Lisle, Illinois 111
G Isaac Reichmuth Minnesota-Duluth 5-11 175 So Fruitvale, British Columbia 212

2003-04 All-WCHA Third Team
P Name Team Hgt Wgt Yr Hometown Points
F Shane Joseph Minnesota State 5-9 185 Sr Brooks, Alberta 111
F Brady Murray North Dakota 5-9 180 Fr Brandon, Manitoba 79
F Gabe Gauthier Denver 5-9 185 So Buena Park, California 53
D Mark Stuart Colorado College 6-2 212 So Rochester, Minnesota 102
D Ryan Suter Wisconsin 6-1 185 Fr Madison, Wisconsin 83
G Adam Berkhoel Denver 5-11 190 Sr Woodbury, Minnesota 71

2003-04 All-WCHA Rookie Team
Pos Name Team Hgt Wgt Yr Hometown Votes
F Brady Murray North Dakota 5-9 180 Fr Brandon, Manitoba 77
F David Backes Minnesota State 6-2 200 Fr Blaine, Minnesota 50
F Robbie Earl Wisconsin 5-11 175 Fr Los Angeles, California 49
D Ryan Suter Wisconsin 6-1 185 Fr Madison, Wisconsin 67
D Matt Carle Denver 6-0 190 Fr Anchorage, Alaska 43
G Matt Zaba Colorado College 6-1 170 Fr Yorkton, Saskatchewan 49