BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – March 12, 2018 – Prior to its 2018 championship game, the Men's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) today recognizes and applauds five of its standout individual performances.
Below are the 2017-18 WCHA Offensive Player, Defenseman, Goaltender, Rookie and Coach of the Year, as announced by WCHA President and Men's League Commissioner Bill Robertson.
"On behalf of the WCHA, our sincere congratulations to our individual award winners," said Robertson. "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 this Thursday (March 15).
2017-18 WCHA Offensive Player of the Year
C.J. Suess, Sr., Minnesota State (Forest Lake, Minn.)
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 in 28 conference games. The senior from Forest Lake, Minn. scored a league-high 19 goals, added 17 assists and posted a WCHA-best plus-19 rating. Suess collected at least one point in an impressive 23 league games, including 10 multi-point efforts. He factored in nine game-winning goals for the 22-win, MacNaughton Cup champion Mavericks, scoring four himself (second-most in the WCHA) and assisting on five others.
The first-team All-WCHA performer added 11 points on the power play (4g-7a), was on the ice for a league-best 32 even-strength Minnesota State goals and contributed a WCHA-high 380 faceoff wins. Idle until the sixth-ranked Mavericks' NCAA tournament opener, Suess currently ranks third in the WCHA with his 43 overall points (22g-21a).
2017-18 WCHA Defenseman of the Year
Alec Rauhauser, So., Bowling Green (Bismarck, N.D.)
Rauhauser, a WCHA All-Rookie Team selection in 2016-17, put together a standout sophomore campaign for a nationally-ranked Bowling Green squad. The Bismarck, N.D. native 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.
A special teams dynamo, he tallied a league defenseman-best 13 power-play helpers and a WCHA-high 16 power-play points. While finding his name on the scoresheet in 17 league contests, Rauhauser also ranked among the WCHA's top-20 defensemen with 34 blocked shots. His overall 0.95 points per game (39 points in 41 contests) currently rank seventh among NCAA blueliners.
2017-18 WCHA Goaltender of the Year
Atte Tolvanen, Jr., Northern Michigan (Vihti, Finland)
Northern Michigan's surprising run to second in the WCHA standings was fueled by many factors, including Tolvanen's play in net. Despite missing six games due to injury, the native of Vihti, Finland 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 finished third with a 2.05 goals-against average.
The junior, who in 2016-17 set the WCHA Men's League record with five-consecutive shutouts, yielded two-or-fewer goals in 13 of his league starts (including two shutouts and four games with just a single goal allowed). Tolvanen enters Saturday's WCHA Championship tied for the NCAA lead with 23 overall wins (23-9-1).
2017-18 WCHA Rookie of the Year
Jake Jaremko, Fr., F, Minnesota State (Nowthen, Minn.)
In a league that currently features four of the NCAA's top-20 scoring freshmen overall by points-per-game, Jaremko emerged as the best with one of the finest rookie seasons in Minnesota State history. The Nowthen, Minn. native 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.
Jaremko tallied at least a point in 20 of his 28 WCHA games, including eight multi-point efforts, helping Minnesota State to a 22-victory, MacNaughton Cup-winning campaign. He is currently second nationally among freshmen with 39 total points (15g-24a) and 1.00 points-per-game, numbers Jaremko will look to improve upon when the No. 6 Mavericks open NCAA tournament play.
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.
Six of Potulny's players earned All-WCHA accolades, while he has the Wildcats playing Saturday in their first conference championship game since the 2010 CCHA title contest (also the year of NMU's last NCAA tournament appearance).
About the 2017-18 WCHA Individual Awards
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 Men's League member team head coaches vote for the All-WCHA Teams, and then again for these awards.
About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, among the most historic, tradition-rich and successful conferences in all of collegiate athletics, will proudly mark its 66th season of men's competition in 2017-18. The 10-team Division 1 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.