WCHA Press Releases

Defending Champion Wisconsin Tops WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll
Badger Forward Daryl Watts named Preseason Player of the Year, while Trio Tie for Preseason Rookie of the Year

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Sept. 9, 2021 – Defending champion Wisconsin is picked among the league's head coaches to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association 2021-22 regular season title.

The Badgers, who have won the last two league titles and the last two national championships, totaled 49 points and seven first place votes in preseason polling among the WCHA's eight coaches. Ohio State received one first place vote and tallied 40 points in the poll.

Minnesota placed third with 37 points to narrowly edge out fourth-place Minnesota Duluth (34 points). Minnesota State finished fifth with 25 points while Bemidji State and St. Cloud State tied for sixth with 16 points. League newcomer St. Thomas rounded out this year's poll with seven points.

In individual awards, Wisconsin's fifth-year forward Daryl Watts was predicted to follow up her 2021 Player of the Year honor with three votes as the WCHA Preseason Player of the Year. Also the 2020-21 leading scorer, Watts narrowly edged out Minnesota senior forward Taylor Heise's two votes. Wisconsin's Sophie Shirley, Minnesota Duluth's Gabbie Hughes, and Ohio State's netminder Andrea Braendli each garnered one vote in the poll.

While taking a look at newcomers, three players tied for WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year. Minnesota forward Peyton Hemp and Wisconsin's Marianne Picard and Sarah Wozniewicz each received two votes to share the preseason honor. Other first-years catching the eyes of league coaches included Minnesota's goaltender Skylar Vetter and forward Emma Connor, as they each received one vote.

Rounding out preseason selections is the six-player All-WCHA Team, featuring Minnesota's Heise, Wisconsin's Watts Shirley at forward, with Wisconsin's Grace Bowlby and Minnesota's Emily Brown on the blueline. Ohio State's Braendli rounded out the team as goaltender.

The WCHA opens its 23rd season Sept. 24-25 as St. Thomas drops the puck on its first Division I game and first in the WCHA at Ohio State. Two nonconference matchups are also slated for opening weekend, as Minnesota State travels to Merrimack and Wisconsin takes on Lindenwood.

2021-22 WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rk Team (1st place votes) Points
1. Wisconsin (7) 49
2. Ohio State (1) 40
3. Minnesota 37
4. Minnesota Duluth 34
5. Minnesota State 25
6. Bemidji State 16
St. Cloud State 16
8. St. Thomas 7
Predicted order of finish based on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. Coaches could not vote for their own team.

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year

Daryl Watts, RSr., F, Wisconsin (3 votes)

Others receiving votes: Taylor Heise, Sr., F, Minnesota (2), Sophie Shirley, Sr., F, Wisconsin (1); Gabbie Hughes, Sr., F, Minnesota Duluth (1) and Andrea Braendli, Sr., G, Ohio State (1).

Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year

Peyton Hemp, Fr., F, Minnesota (2 votes) Sarah Wozniewicz, Fr., F, Wisconsin (2); Marianne Picard, Fr., F, Wisconsin, (2).

Others receiving votes: Skylar Vetter, Fr., G, Minnesota (1); Emma Connor, Fr., F, Minnesota (1).

Preseason All-WCHA

F: Gabbie Hughes, Sr., Minnesota Duluth
F: Daryl Watts, RSr., Wisconsin
F: Sophie Shirley, Sr., Wisconsin
D: Grace Bowlby, RSr., Wisconsin
D: Emily Brown, RSr., Minnesota
G: Andrea Braendli, Sr., Ohio State

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically by position): Forwards – Clair DeGeorge, Sr., Ohio State; Taylor Heise, Jr., Minnesota; Elizabeth Giguere, Sr., Minnesota Duluth; Anna Klein, Sr., Minnesota Duluth; Amy Potomak, Sr. Minnesota. Defensemen – Nicole LaMantia, Sr., Wisconsin; Sophie Jaques, Jr., Ohio State; Olivia Knowles, Sr., Minnesota; Anna Wilgren, Sr., Minnesota State. Goaltenders – Calla Frank, So., Minnesota State; Emma Soderberg, Sr., Minnesota Duluth.


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About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association

As the premier women's hockey conference, the WCHA marks its 23rd season in 2021-22. WCHA member institutions have won a record 18 national championships since the league's inception in 1999 (including a 17 of a possible 20 NCAA titles), while producing seven Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, 110 All-Americans, and numerous Olympic and national team members. The eight-team NCAA Division I conference consists of Bemidji State University (Beavers), the University of Minnesota (Golden Gophers), the University of Minnesota Duluth (Bulldogs), Minnesota State University (Mavericks), The Ohio State University (Buckeyes), St. Cloud State University (Huskies), the University of St. Thomas (Tommies), and the University of Wisconsin (Badgers). For more information, visit wcha.com.