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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Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 102 2nd OT 5:00
San Antonio 102
Milwaukee 41 3rd Qtr
Portland 43
Houston 26 2nd Qtr 11:37
Denver 29
Indiana 35 2nd Qtr 8:14
LA Clippers 36
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 17:01
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 57 1st OT
Cincinnati 57
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 40 2nd Half 10:17
Cal Poly 36
Central Arkansas 34 2nd Half 17:10
New Mexico 41
Howard 27 2nd Half 15:30
Pepperdine 34
Portland 29 1st Half 3:18
UNLV 26
CS-Northridge 5 1st Half 16:08
Oregon 4
Grambling St 3 1st Half 15:19
Washington 7
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
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
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 22 2nd Half 15:58
San Francisco 36
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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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