BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State women’s hockey team was selected to finish fifth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association by the league’s coaches when the 2019-20 preseason poll was released Wednesday. The Beavers garnered 15 points to finish fifth in the preseason poll for the fourth consecutive season, matching where they finished in the league standings last year.
Defending national-champion Wisconsin was essentially the unanimous choice to win the league title by receiving six of seven first-place votes and 36 points in the poll. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.
Minnesota, last year’s regular-season champion and national runner-up, was picked to finish second in the poll by taking 31 points and one first-place vote. Ohio State and Minnesota Duluth were tabbed to finish third and fourth with 24 and 23 points each. Minnesota State and St. Cloud State rounded out the poll in sixth (12 points) and seventh place (six points), respectively.
Wisconsin senior forward Abby Roque and Ohio State junior forward Emma Maltais shared WCHA Preseason Player of the Year honors after each collected two votes. Minnesota defenseman Madeline Wethington took home WCHA Rookie of the Year with three votes.
Malthais and Gopher junior Grace Zumwinkle were named to the Preseason All-WCHA team as forwards, along with Roque and Wisconsin sophomore Sophie Shirley, who tied for the final spot. OSU senior Jincy Dunne and Badger senior Mekenzie Steffen were named All-WCHA defensemen, and UW senior Kristen Campbell was the goalie selected to the team.
The Beavers finished fifth in the WCHA standings at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season with a 13-21-2 overall record and a 10-12-2-0 league mark. UMD ended BSU’s season by claiming a pair of one-goal wins in a best-of-three WCHA quarterfinal series.
The Beavers lose only two seniors from last year’s squad and will welcome six freshmen to the program this fall.
Bemidji State will open the 2019-20 campaign by hosting an exhibition game against the University of Regina on Friday, Sept. 27. Lindenwood will come to town one week later to begin the regular season, Oct. 4-5.
Scanlan excited about addition of 3-on-3 OT
The WCHA will become the first women’s league in college hockey to adopt 3-on-3 overtime this season. The rules change was a popular topic of conversation during Wednesday’s conference call with league coaches.
The 3-on-3 overtime period will occur after the NCAA-mandated 5-on-5 overtime period in league games only. If games remain tied after 3-on-3 overtime, a sudden-death shootout will follow.
The WCHA adopted the new overtime format during league meetings over the offseason. It passed with a slim 4-3 vote of the league’s coaches.
BSU head coach Jim Scanlan was among those who voted in favor of 3-on-3 overtime. He said UMD coach Maura Crowell and Gophers coach Brad Frost convinced him to vote in favor of the change.
“It’s just time,” Scanlan said. “I think every team in our league is going to be able to put out some really, really dynamic players in that situation. Obviously, if it gets to 3-on-3, it’s just going to be super exciting for, not just the players on both teams, but for the fans that are going to be in attendance. There are some just tremendously skilled players in our league, and to be able to showcase that in a 3-on-3 situation is, I think, just great for our game.”