BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Nov. 10, 2020 – Defending MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State is the favorite to repeat as league champions, garnering six first-place votes in the WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Mavericks, who finished 31-5-2 (23-4-1-1 in WCHA) last season, received 86 points in the coaches' poll (coaches could not vote for their own teams). Bemidji State was second with 79 points and one first place vote. Bowling Green was third with 78 points and three first place nods.
Michigan Tech (64 points) edged UP rival Northern Michigan (63) for fourth place to round out the top five.
Lake Superior State (49), Alaska (40), Ferris State (35), Alaska Anchorage (28) and Alabama Huntsville (18) complete this year's poll.
Bowling Green senior forward Brandon Kruse and Minnesota State junior goaltender Dryden McKay shared WCHA Preseason Player of the Year honors with four votes apiece. Kruse is the lone returning 100-point career scorer in the WCHA this season with 18 points on 27 goals and 81 assists. A Mike Richter Award finalist last season, McKay set a WCHA record for GAA in league games with a 1.17 mark, breaking his previous record of 1.35 set during his freshman campaign in 2018-19.
Mavericks freshman Akito Hirose was the pick for Preseason Rookie of the Year, getting three votes. The Calgary, Alta., native comes to MSU from Salmon Arm of the BCHL where he captained the Silverbacks and led all BCHL blueliners in scoring with nine goals and 42 assists in 57 games last season.
The Preseason All-WCHA Team includes four forwards – BGSU's Kruse and Connor Ford; Northern Michigan's Griffin Loughran and Minnesota State's Lucas Sowder. Sowder and Ford tied for the third forward spot.
Bemidji State sophomore Elias Rosén and Alaska junior Chris Jandric were tabbed as Preseason All-WCHA defensemen, while McKay got the nod at goaltender.
|2020-21 WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll|
|Rank||Team (1st place votes)||Points|
|1.||Minnesota State (6)||86|
|2.||Bemidji State (1)||79|
|3.||Bowling Green (3)||78|
|6.||Lake Superior State||49|
|Coaches could not vote for their own teams. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 scale.|
WCHA Coaches' Preseason Player of the Year (Votes)
Brandon Kruse, Sr., F, Bowling Green (4)
Dryden McKay, Jr. G, Minnesota State (4)
Others Receiving Votes: Connor Ford, Sr., F, Bowling Green (1); Trenton Bliss, Jr., F, Michigan Tech (1)
WCHA Coaches' Preseason Rookie of the Year (Votes)
Akito Hirose, D, Minnesota State (3)
Others Receiving Votes: Carson Bantle, F, Michigan Tech (2); Brendan Furry, F, Minnesota State (2); Jake Livingstone, D, Minnesota State (1); Logan Stein, G, Ferris State (1); Ethan Scardina, F, Bowling Green (1)
Coaches' Preseason All-WCHA Team (Votes)
Forwards: Griffin Loughran, Jr., Northern Michigan (7); Brandon Kruse, Sr., Bowling Green (7); Connor Ford, Sr., Bowling Green (4); Lucas Sowder, So., Minnesota State (4)
Others Receiving Votes: Owen Sillinger, Jr, Bemidji State (3); Nathan Smith, So., Minnesota State (3); Alec Broetzman, Jr., Michigan Tech (1); Trenton Bliss, Jr., Michigan Tech (1).
Defensemen: Elias Rosén, So., Bemidji State (7); Chris Jandric, Jr., Alaska (6)
Others Receiving Votes: Jake Willets, So., Ferris State (4); Colin Swoyer, Jr., Michigan Tech (3)
Goaltender: Dryden McKay, Jr., Minnesota State (7)
Others Receiving Votes: Zach Driscoll, Sr., Bemidji State (3)
About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Men’s League
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, among the most historic, tradition-rich and successful conferences in all of collegiate athletics, will mark its 69th season of men's competition in 2020-21. The 10-team NCAA Division I conference consists of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Chargers), the University of Alaska Anchorage (Seawolves), the University of Alaska (Nanooks), Bemidji State University (Beavers), Bowling Green State University (Falcons), Ferris State University (Bulldogs), Lake Superior State University (Lakers), Michigan Technological University (Huskies), Minnesota State University (Mavericks) and Northern Michigan University (Wildcats). For more information, visit wcha.com.