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September 21, 2011
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League Head Coaches Select Defending National Champion Wisconsin to Win WCHA Title in 2011-12
Minnesota Chosen Second, Minnesota Duluth Third in Annual Preseason WCHA Head Coaches Poll; Wisconsin's Knight Picked as Pre-season WCHA Player of the Year; North Dakota's Michelle Karvinen, Minnesota's Meghan Lorence, Minnesota Duluth's Brigette Lacquette Tabbed as Rookies of the Year; Badgers Open Season vs Lindenwood Friday & Sunday; BSU, UND, OSU to Play Exhibitions
Wisconsin's Hilary Knight was picked as pre-season Player of the Year

MADISON, Wis. There will be no surprises from the coaches who have seen its league win the last 12 women's national championships. The University of Wisconsin swept to the national championship in a memorable season last year (2010-11) and, according to a preseason poll of league coaches, the Badgers are the pick to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's title again in 2011-12.

The Badgers, who won the WCHA regular season crown and the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF a year ago before beating Boston University 4-1 to win the national title, return 18 players this season. Wisconsin collected six first place votes and 47 points in the poll of the league's eight head coaches.

Minnesota finished second with 43 votes, including two first place votes. Minnesota Duluth, with 37 points, was selected to finish third. Like Wisconsin, UMD qualified for the NCAA tournament last season.

North Dakota was picked to finish fourth, followed by Ohio State in fifth place, Bemidji State in sixth, Minnesota State in seventh and St. Cloud State in eighth.

Wisconsin senior forward Hilary Knight, a member of the women's U.S. Olympic Hockey Team in 2010, received six votes and is the head coaches' pick to be preseason WCHA Player of the Year. An AHCA Division 1 First Team All-American as a sophomore and junior, Knight was also a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 finalist in 2010-11 and has scored 112 goals in her first three seasons. Brianna Decker, Knight's teammate on Wisconsin, also received two votes.

Three players North Dakota forward Michelle Karvinen, Minnesota forward Meghan Lorence and Minnesota Duluth defenseman Brigette Lacquette are the head coaches' choice as pre-season WCHA Rookie of the Year. Minnesota's Rachel Ramsey and Minnesota Duluth's Jenna McParland also had one vote each.

2011-12 WCHA Coaches Pre-Season Poll
Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Wisconsin (6) 47
2. Minnesota (2) 44
3. Minnesota Duluth 35
4. North Dakota 34
5. Ohio State 24
6. Bemidji State 20
7. Minnesota State 13
8. St. Cloud State 7
(Note: coaches could not vote for their own teams in the poll and points were awarded on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system.)

WCHA Pre-Season Player of the Year (votes)
Hilary Knight, F, Wisconsin (6); Brianna Decker, F, Wisconsin (2).

WCHA Pre-Season Rookie of the Year (votes)
Michelle Karvinen, F, North Dakota (2); Brigette Lacquette, D, Minnesota Duluth (2); Meghan Lorence, F, Minnesota (2); Rachel Ramsey, D, Minnesota (1); Jenna McParland, F, Minnesota Duluth (1).

This Week in the WCHA

Games for Friday, Sept. 23: Manitoba at North Dakota (EX), 7:07 pm CT; Thunderbay Queens at Bemidji State (EX), 7:07 pm CT; Wilfrid Laurier at Ohio State (EX), 7:07 pm ET; Lindenwood at Wisconsin (NC), 7:37 pm CT.

Games for Saturday, Sept. 24: Manitoba at North Dakota (EX), 2:07 pm CT.

Games for Sunday, Sept. 25: Lindenwood at Wisconsin (NC), 2:07 pm CT.

WCHA On-Ice Play Begins this Weekend with One Series, Three Exhibition Games for Sept. 23-25

Ready or not, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's season for 2011-12 begins this weekend with two regular season games and three exhibitions.

In non-conference play, defending national champion Wisconsin, ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com preseason poll, will host first-year program Lindenwood University out of St. Charles, Mo., on Friday and Sunday at the Kohl Center. In exhibition contests, Ohio State, under new coach Nate Handrahan, will host Wilfrid Laurier out of Waterloo, Ont., Bemidji State will entertain the Thunderbay Queens, and No. 7 North Dakota will host the University of Manitoba.

On the second weekend of the new season (Sept. 30-Oct. 1), non-conference action finds No. 4 Minnesota hosting the East/West Showcase tournament with St. Cloud State, Syracuse and Union College, North Dakota heading east to take on Boston University, Bemidji State welcoming Providence College, and Minnesota State opening with a home series against Lindenwood. In exhibition play, No. 6 Minnesota Duluth will skate against the visiting Minnesota Whitecaps.

The season long, 112-game conference slate, which consists of each league-member team playing a total of 28 WCHA games (four games vs each of other seven members two home and two away), opens the weekend of Friday-Sunday, Oct. 7-9, with three two-game series. Defending WCHA regular season Wisconsin will host North Dakota, Minnesota will entertain St. Cloud State, and Ohio State will host Bemidji State. Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State, meanwhile, won't open their respective league seasons until Oct. 21-22 when the Bulldogs entertain Wisconsin and the Mavericks play at Minnesota. The conference schedule concludes the weekend of Feb. 17-19.

September 19, 2011
Wisconsin Ranked No. 1 in First USCHO.com Division 1 Women's Poll for 2011-12
Minnesota No. 4, Minnesota Duluth No. 6, North Dakota No. 7

The defending national champion Wisconsin Badgers start this season where they ended last season at No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division 1 Women's Poll (www.uscho.com). Wisconsin received all 14 first-place votes.

Boston University comes in second, edging out No. 3 Cornell by five points.

Minnesota sits at No. 4, while Boston College rounds out the top five.

Minnesota Duluth goes one notch later at No. 6 and North Dakota sits in the seventh rank.

Mercyhurst comes in eighth, while Quinnipiac, not ranked in last season's final poll, starts the year at No. 9.

Dartmouth and Providence tied for the 10th spot in the poll.