WCHA reveals five individual award winners for 2017-18 campaign

8 Jan 16: Brad McClure (Minnesota State - 19), Ate Tolvanen (Northern Michigan - 41). The Minnesota State University Mavericks host the Northern Michigan University Wildcats in a WCHA conference matchup at Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, MN. (Jim Rosvold)
Atte Tolvanen enters Saturday’s WCHA championship game tied for the NCAA lead with 23 wins for Northern Michigan (photo: Jim Rosvold).

The WCHA announced five individual awards on Tuesday.

The league revealed its 2017-18 WCHA Offensive Player, Defenseman, Goaltender, Rookie and Coach of the Year.

The 2017-18 WCHA Offensive Player and Defenseman of the Year were chosen from the All-WCHA First Team forwards and blueliners, respectively. The Goaltender of the Year is the first-team All-WCHA netminder, while the Rookie of the Year was selected from the All-WCHA Rookie Team. WCHA head coaches vote for the All-WCHA Teams, and then again for these awards.

“On behalf of the WCHA, our sincere congratulations to our individual award winners,” said WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson in a statement. “We have had a tremendous season with four 20-win teams, a pair of schools bound for the NCAA tournament and numerous individual accomplishments. To be recognized by WCHA head coaches as the best-of-the-best from our league is a wonderful honor. We are proud to stand and applaud their fantastic seasons.”

The four players are now finalists for the overall 2017-18 WCHA Player of the Year, to be announced March 15.

2017-18 WCHA Offensive Player of the Year: C.J. Suess, Sr., Minnesota State
Suess was the top offensive threat on the league’s highest-scoring team, becoming the first Mavericks skater to capture the WCHA scoring title after tallying 36 points (league-high 19 goals, 17 assists) in 28 conference games.

2017-18 WCHA Defenseman of the Year: Alec Rauhauser, So., Bowling Green
Rauhauser, a WCHA All-Rookie Team selection in 2016-17, put together a standout sophomore campaign for Bowling Green. He ranked second among league blueliners with a plus-16 rating, while tallying six goals, 20 assists (tied for first) and 26 points (second) in 28 WCHA games.

2017-18 WCHA Goaltender of the Year: Atte Tolvanen, Jr., Northern Michigan
Despite missing six games due to injury, Tolvanen tied for the league lead with 17 WCHA wins and ranked second with a .773 winning percentage in his 22 starts (17-5-0). He also was second in the league with a .917 save percentage and two shutouts (tied), while finishing third with a 2.05 GAA. Tolvanen enters Saturday’s WCHA championship game tied for the NCAA lead with 23 wins (23-9-1).

2017-18 WCHA Rookie of the Year: Jake Jaremko, Fr., F, Minnesota State
Jaremko led the talented crop of WCHA freshmen in league play with 31 points, 11 goals, 0.39 goals-per-game, 1.11 points-per-game, six power-play goals (tied) and 12 power-play points (tied), while he was second with 20 assists and a plus-13 rating.

2017-18 WCHA Coach of the Year: Grant Potulny, Northern Michigan
In his first year as a NCAA Division I head coach, Potulny has engineered the finest Northern Michigan season in over a decade and its best league campaign in 26 years. The Wildcats enter Saturday’s WCHA championship tied for third nationally in victories with their first 25-win season (25-14-3) since the 2001-02 campaign (26-12-2), part of the program’s first 20-win effort since 2009-10 (20-13-8).

After Northern Michigan was picked by league coaches and media to finish seventh in the WCHA preseason polls, Potulny guided the Wildcats to a second-place conference finish with a 19-7-2-2 record. The 19 wins represented the school’s most league victories in any conference since the 1990-91 team captured the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular-season champions at 25-4-3, en route to NMU’s only NCAA national title.