After finishing ninth a season ago, the Bemidji State men’s hockey team didn’t get much love from the media in the 2012-13 WCHA Preseason Media Poll, released Wednesday.
The Beavers were picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the final iteration of the current conference alignment.
A panel of 25 members of the WCHA media voted on a predicted order of finish, along with a handful of individual honors.
Minnesota was the near-unanimous choice to win the league, garnering 24 out of 25 first-place votes. North Dakota received one first-place vote but was ultimately picked to finish second.
Denver came in third, followed by Wisconsin, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State.
BSU went 17-18-3 overall last season and 11-14-3 in conference play, but lost some key pieces, including forwards Shea Walters and Jamie MacQueen, defenseman Brad Hunt and goaltender Dan Bakala. That may explain their predicted finish in the league’s bottom half.
Meanwhile the rest of the league seems to have gotten stronger, with plenty of returning talent.
Minnesota junior forward Nick Bjugstad was a runaway choice for the Preseason Player of the Year.
He was also a member of the media’s Preseason All-WCHA team. He’s joined by Wisconsin junior Mark Zengerle and St. Cloud State senior Ben Hanowski, both forwards, as well as defensemen Joey LaLeggia of Denver and Nick Jensen of St. Cloud State. Sam Brittain of Denver and Josh Thorimbert of Colorado College tied for the goaltending nod.
And for the second year in a row, North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi was chosen as Preseason Rookie of the Year.
Grimaldi took a redshirt after an injury-ravaged season, and he is again eligible for rookie honors.
Teams were scored under a standard system of 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for second, and so on. The number listed with each team is the number of points that team averaged per vote.
94X WCHA PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Minnesota (24 first place votes)
2. North Dakota (1)
5. Minnesota Duluth
6. St. Cloud State
7. Colorado College
8. Nebraska Omaha
9. Michigan Tech
10. Minnesota State
11. Bemidji State
12. Alaska Anchorage
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nick Bjugstad, forward, Minnesota (16 votes)
Others receiving more than one vote: Erik Haula, forward, Minnesota (4); Mark Zengerle, forward, Wisconsin (3)
PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Rocco Grimaldi, forward, North Dakota (8 1/2 votes)
Others receiving more than one vote: Nic Kerdiles, forward, Wisconsin (5); Jordan Schmaltz, defenseman, North Dakota (2 1/2); Brady Skjei, defenseman, Minnesota (2); Andy Welinski, defenseman, Minnesota Duluth (2)
PRESEASON ALL-WCHA TEAM
Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (20 votes); Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin (17); Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State (8)
Others receiving more than one vote: Danny Kristo, North Dakota (7); Erik Haula, Minnesota (6); Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College (5); Corban Knight, North Dakota (3)
Joey LaLeggia, Denver (20 votes); Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State (9)
Others receiving more than one vote: Nate Schmidt, Minnesota (7); Wade Bergman, Minnesota Duluth (3)
Sam Brittain, Denver and Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College (7 1/2 votes each)
Others receiving more than one vote: Juho Olkinuora, Denver (3), Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin (2)
The following media members took part in the 94X Preseason Media Poll:
David Ahlers, KKAR Radio/University of Nebraska-Omaha; Stephen Anderson, Daily Mining Gazette; Andy Baggot, Wisconsin State Journal; Tyler Buckentine, USCHO.com; Mike Chambers, Denver Post; Bruce Ciskie, KZIO Radio/Bulldog Radio Network; Chris Dilks, Western College Hockey; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; John Gilbert, WCHA.com; Kurt Haider, KENI Radio; Mick Hatten, St. Cloud Times; Dirk Hembroff, WKMJ Radio; Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer; Ken Landau, 103.9 FM The Eagle Radio; Don Lyons, Leighton Broadcasting/St. Cloud; Todd Milewski, USCHO.com; Dan Myers, Minnesota Hockey Magazine; Jess Myers, 1500ESPN.com; Joe Paisley, Colorado Springs/Colorado College; Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune; Chris Peters, United States of Hockey; Brian Posick, WIBA Radio/Badger Radio Network; Chad Purcell, Omaha World Herald; Brad Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald; Jay Stickney, 102.3 ESPN Radio.