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September 22, 2010
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League Head Coaches Select Defending National Champion Minnesota Duluth to Win WCHA in 2010-11
Coaches Pick Wisconsin Second, Minnesota Third in Preseason WCHA Coaches Poll; UW's Knight Picked as Pre-season WCHA Player of the Year, Minnesota's Kessel Tabbed as Rookie of the Year; Four Women's Teams Set to Play Exhibition Games this Weekend as Bemidji State, North Dakota Host the Toronto Jr. Aeros and Minnesota, St. Cloud State Host Manitoba
Defending WCHA and NCAA Champion Minnesota Duluth is the Pre-Season Favorite in the WCHA for 2010-11

MADISON, Wis. Minnesota Duluth swept to the national championship in a memorable season last year (2009-10) and, according to a preseason poll of league coaches, the Bulldogs are the pick to repeat and win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association women's title again in 2010-11.

The Bulldogs, who shared the WCHA regular season crown with Minnesota last season and won the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF before beating Cornell to win the national title, return 12 players and four skaters who competed in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Minnesota Duluth collected six first place votes and 48 points in the poll of the league's eight head coaches.

Wisconsin, which returns two Olympians and Coach Mark Johnson who led the U.S. Women's Olympic Hockey Team to a silver medal last winter, finished second with 43 votes, including two first place votes. Minnesota, with 37 points, was selected to finish third. Like UMD, Minnesota shared the 2010 WCHA title and qualified for the NCAA Women's Frozen Four last season.

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

Wisconsin junior forward Hilary Knight, a member of the U.S. Olympic Team last season, 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, Knight was also the WCHA Player of the Year and a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 finalist in 2008-09. North Dakota's Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, Knight's teammate on the U.S. Olympic team, also received a vote.

Minnesota forward Amanda Kessel, whose brother Phil played with the Gophers and is currently with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL, received six votes and is the coaches' choice as preseason WCHA rookie of the year while Wisconsin goalie Alex Rigsby received a vote and the Badgers' Madison Packer and Brittany Ammerman, both forwards, had a half vote each.

2010-11 WCHA Coaches Pre-Season Poll
Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Minnesota Duluth (6) 48
2. Wisconsin (2) 43
3. Minnesota 37
4. Ohio State 30
5. North Dakota 27
6. Bemidji State 17
7. St. Cloud State 13
8. Minnesota State 9
(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 (7); Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, F, North Dakota (1).

WCHA Pre-Season Rookie of the Year: Amanda Kessel, F, Minnesota (6); Alex Rigsby, G, Wisconsin (1); Madison Packer, F, Wisconsin (); Brittany Ammerman, F, Wisconsin ().

WCHA Play Begins this Weekend with Four Exhibition Games Set for Sept. 24-26

Western Collegiate Hockey Association on-ice play for 2010-11 begins this weekend with four exhibition games.

Bemidji State hosts the Toronto Jr. Aeros on Friday night and then North Dakota entertains the same Toronto Jr. Aeros team on Saturday. The University of Manitoba plays St. Cloud State Saturday at the National Hockey Center and faces Minnesota Sunday afternoon at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

The first regular season action for the new season will occur the weekend of Friday-Sunday, Oct. 1-3, in a series of non-conference matchups. Wisconsin will host Rensselaer Oct. 1-2 at the Kohl Center in Madison while North Dakota entertains Hockey East Association pre-season favorite Boston University Oct. 2-3 in a pair of matinee encounters at Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks. Three WCHA teams open the regular season on the road Oct. 1-2 as St. Cloud State is at highly-touted Mercyhurst, Minnesota heads to Clarkson and Bemidji State visits Wayne State.

Minnesota Duluth plays a pair of exhibition contests against the Minnesota Whitecaps on Oct. 2-3 while Ohio State hosts Wilfrid Laurier in an exhibition Oct. 2 and then plays it non-conference opening series at Robert Morris Oct. 8-9. Minnesota State opens its season by hosting Niagara on Oct. 8-9.

League plays starts the weekend of Oct. 8-10 when Wisconsin hosts Bemidji State (Friday-Sunday) and Minnesota Duluth travels to North Dakota (Saturday-Sunday).

The battle for the 2010-11 WCHA regular season championship will again consist of a 28-game schedule for each of the league's eight clubs, with each team playing the other seven four times twice at home and twice on the road. During the course of the season, there will be a total of eight weekends that will consist of all eight member teams engaged in WCHA play. The league schedule concludes Feb. 19.