Michael Russo's 2012-13 WCHA season preview

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 19, 2012 - 7:30 AM
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Christian Isackson celebrated with Nick Bjugstad after Bjugstad scored a first-period goal against Michigan State.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Staff writer Michael Russo takes a look at the WCHA teams, listed in order of predicted finish in the preseason league coaches' poll.

1. Gophers

The defending MacNaughton Cup winners return seven of their top eight scorers and all six starting defensemen while adding two incoming freshmen defensemen in Brady Skjei and Mike Reilly, who made immediate impacts in consecutive routs over Michigan State to open the season. ... The Gophers return leading goal scorer Nick Bjugstad (25) and leading scorer Erik Haula (49 points), and each had three points last weekend. ... After losing Kent Patterson, coach Don Lucia will rotate goalies Michael Shibrowski and Adam Wilcox at least the next two weekends; both won their first games last weekend.

2. North Dakota

UND lost Brock Nelson (28 goals, 47 points) but returns forwards Rocco Grimaldi (coming off season-ending injury, WCHA Preseason rookie of the year), Danny Kristo (45 points, 109 in his career) and Corban Knight (40 points, 97 in his career) and defensemen Nick Mattson and Derek Forbort. ... Top incoming freshmen include forwards Drake Caggiula, Bryn Chyzyk and Coltyn Sanderson, goalie Zane Gothberg and defenseman Jordan Schmaltz.

3. Denver

Picked to win the WCHA by most preseason polls last year, the Pioneers suffered injuries all year long and finished third. They return a quality roster, but will be hurt by the losses of Jason Zucker to the Wild and Drew Shore to Florida. ... Junior center Nick Shore returns after scoring 41 points, and defenseman Joey LaLeggia is back after earning National and WCHA Rookie of the Year honors after 11 goals and 38 points.

4. St. Cloud State

After advancing to the Final Five last year, the Huskies, who lost twice at New Hampshire last weekend, return forwards Ben Hanowski (46 career goals) and Nic Dowd (23 points) and defensemen Andrew Prochno (29 points, All-WCHA rookie team) and Nick Jensen (All-WCHA third team). ... Senior Drew LeBlanc received a medical redshirt last season but is back. He has 98 career points. ... Sophomore goalie Ryan Faragher is back between the nets after posting a 2.78 goals-against average last year.

5. Wisconsin

Coming off a disappointing season, the Badgers lost standout defenseman Justin Schultz to the Edmonton Oilers but return 15 of their top 16 scorers. ... Junior forward Mark Zengerle (88 career points) returns after leading Wisconsin with 50 points last year. ... Anaheim draft pick Nic Kerdiles, a highly touted freshman, was suspended by the NCAA for the year for dealings with an NHL agent. His appeal was heard Thursday.

6. Minnesota Duluth

The Bulldogs were the second-highest scoring team in the country last year but lost Hobey Baker winner Jack Connolly, J.T. Brown, Travis Oleksuk and Brady Lamb, who combined for 191 points. ... UMD will look for Mike Seidel and Caleb Hebert to continue to make steps forward after combining for 63 points last year. ... Defenseman Chris Casto, one of six returning blue-liners, had the best plus-minus (+21) of any rookie defenseman in the country.

7. Colorado College

The Tigers lost leading scorer Jaden Schwartz to the St. Louis Blues but return older brother Rylan Schwartz, who scored 23 goals and 40 points last year. ... Junior goalie Josh Thorimbert posted a WCHA-best 12-4-1 record with a .928 save percentage in conference play last year and will platoon with senior Joe Howe.

8. Nebraska Omaha

The Mavericks have yet to make the Final Five in their two seasons in the WCHA. ... Dean Blais lost Terry Broadhurst, Jayson Megna and goalie Ryan Massa but has a top incoming freshman class, including defensemen Brian Cooper and Wild prospect Nick Seeler. ... Top returners include forwards Matt White (40 points) and Ryan Walters (25 points).

9. Michigan Tech

Second-year coach Mel Pearson, last year's WCHA coach of the year after guiding the Huskies into the Final Five, played at Edina. ... The Huskies, who play only 16 home games this year, had nine eight-goal scorers last season, the most in the nation. Six return, including Hill-Murray graduate Ryan Furne (12 goals) and David Johnstone (11).

10. Minnesota State Mankato

Mike Hastings, the former St. Cloud State defenseman and Gophers and Nebraska Omaha assistant, takes over the program. He's the all-time winningest coach in the USHL, coaching the Omaha Lancers to 529 victories. ... Forward Matt Leitner, last year's leading scorer with 29 points, had a goal and three assists in an exhibition victory over Lethbridge. ... Senior forward Eriah Hayes is the Mavericks' active career scoring leader with 60 points in 112 games.

11. Bemidji State

Senior forward Jordan George returns after posting three consecutive 30-point seasons and a career-high 19 goals last season. He has 49 goals and 101 points in his BSU career. ... This is five-time College Hockey America Coach of the Year Tom Serratore's 12th season, and he has led the Beavers to five conference titles and four NCAA appearances.

12. Alaska Anchorage

The Seawolves return 16 players from last season, including goalies Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal. ... Junior Matt Bailey is their leading returning scorer with 10 goals and 17 points. ... Senior forward Jordan Kwas played only 21 games last year but still registered 14 points.

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Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 35 FINAL
Arizona 6
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 4 FINAL(OT)
Winnipeg 3
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
Sacramento St 47 FINAL
Seattle 66
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 55 FINAL
Old Dominion 61
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<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

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