WCHA Press Releases

WCHA Week 1 Notes: Return To The Ice
Bowling Green to lift the lid on the 2020-21 season on Friday

Opening Faceoff

- Mavericks Open as Favorites: Defending MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota State opens the 2020-21 season as the preseason choice of both the league coaches and media to capture an unprecedented fourth consecutive regular season WCHA title. The Mavericks begin the campaign with a record of 67-14-3-2 in league play over the last three seasons.

  • Mike Hastings' squad is seeking to become the first school in WCHA history to win four consecutive league crowns this season. MSU joined Colorado College (1993-94 to 1995-96) as just the second school to capture three consecutive outright WCHA titles last season.
  • Denver is the only other league school to win three in a row (1957-58, 1959-60 and 1960-61) but shared the first crown with North Dakota (there was no WCHA league play in 1958-59).

- McKay, Kruse Earn Preseason Player of the Year Nods: Bowling Green senior forward Brandon Kruse and Minnesota State junior goaltender Dryden McKay were voted Preseason co-Players of the Year by the WCHA's coaches. McKay also earned Preseason Player of the Year honors in the WCHA media poll.

  • Kruse is the lone returning 100-point career scorer in the WCHA this season with 108 points on 27 goals and 81 assists. He tallied 34 points on nine goals and 25 assists a season ago.
  • 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.

- Hirose, Bantle Named Preseason Rookies of the Year: Minnesota State defenseman Akito Hirose and Michigan Tech forward Carson Bantle are the WCHA Preseason Rookies of the Year by WCHA coaches and media, respectively. Hirose led BCHL defenders in scoring for Salmon Arm while Bantle tallied 69 points on 30 goals and 39 assists for Madison of the USHL in 2019-20.

- Two in the Top 20: The WCHA landed two teams in the USCHO Preseason Top 20 released Oct. 26. Minnesota State opens the year ranked No. 4 after 31-5-2 campaign in 2019-20. Regular season runner-up Bemidji State checks in at 16. Bowling Green, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech all received votes.

  • Minnesota State is No. 5 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine preseason poll while Bemidji State is 15th. The Falcons, Wildcats and Huskies also received votes.

By The Numbers

- 108: Career points for Bowling Green's Brandon Kruse, the second-best total among returning players in the NCAA this season. The Saline, Mich., native is the lone returning 100-point scorer in the WCHA.

- 76: Wins for Northern Michigan over UP rival Michigan Tech. The Wildcats and Huskies will renew acquaintances Nov. 27-28 in a home-and-home non-league series.

- 30: Scheduled non-league games between WCHA-member schools. Due to limited opportunities for non-league contests, WCHA teams will play only 10 games against non-league teams in the regular season this year.

- 8: Countries represented on Lake Superior State's roster - Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Sweden, Slovakia and the United States.

- 2: Seniors on Alabama Huntsville's roster - assistant captains Connor Wood and Connor Merkley.

- 1.63: GAA for Bemidji State's Zach Driscoll in 2019-20, which ranked No. 3 in the country.

The Week Ahead

- Adrian (Mich.) at (RV/RV) Bowling Green: The truncated 2020-21 WCHA season begins this week as (RV/RV) Bowling Green hosts Division III Adrian College in a single game on Friday, Nov. 13 in the only game involving a WCHA team this weekend.

2021 WCHA Postseason Tournament

Once again in 2021, the WCHA will crown a playoff champion at the WCHA Postseason Tournament. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship and the Jeff Sauer WCHA Championship Trophy, presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.