Drew LeBlanc is the epitome of the well-rounded college athlete, a math education major who is student-teaching while leading St. Cloud State to a share of its first-ever MacNaughton Cup. Thursday, LeBlanc became the first player ever to be named WCHA player of the year and outstanding student-athlete of the year.
LeBlanc, a senior from Hermantown, also joins Huskies defenseman Nick Jensen on the all-WCHA first team as the league announced its year-end awards. The Gophers placed four players on all-WCHA teams, including defenseman Nate Schmidt (first team), centers Erik Haula (second team) and Nick Bjugstad (third team) and goaltender Adam Wilcox (third team). Other top award winners were Jensen, named WCHA defensive player of the year; Minnesota State, Mankato goalie Stephon Williams, rookie of the year; and MSU Mankato coach Mike Hastings, coach of the year.
LeBlanc has 34 assists this season, the most in Division I, and leads the WCHA with 25 assists in league play. The two-year captain is the nation's fourth-leading scorer with 46 points. A student teacher at St. Cloud Apollo High School, LeBlanc has won numerous academic awards during his Huskies career and also participates in community and campus service activities.
Jensen, a junior from Rogers, has started 113 consecutive games. He's the eighth-leading scorer among Division I defensemen with 28 points and is +17 while playing against opponents' top lines. Williams finished the regular season as the WCHA's goaltending champ with a 1.83 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and 19-9-2 record.
Hastings is in his first season with the Mavericks and led the team to its highest-ever national ranking (No. 7, on Feb. 25). Currently ranked 10th, the Mavericks finished 16-11-1 in WCHA play to make the top half of the league standings for the first time since 2007-08, and their 16 conference victories is a program record.
Ryan Walters of Nebraska Omaha, a Rosemount native, is the WCHA scoring champion with 40 points in 28 league games. His 50 total points--second-best in Division I--are the third-highest total in school history.
In addition to the four players who made all-league teams, the Gophers put 17 players on the WCHA's all-academic team.
The all-WCHA first team is: F, LeBlanc; F, Walters; F, Danny Kristo (North Dakota); D, Jensen; D, Schmidt; G, Williams.
Second team: F, Haula; F, Corban Knight (North Dakota); F, Rylan Schwartz (Colorado College); D, Joey LaLeggia (Denver); D, Mike Boivin (Colorado College); G, Juho Olkinuora (Denver).
Third team: F, Bjugstad; F, Matt Leitner (MSU Mankato); F, Eriah Hayes (MSU Mankato); D, Andrej Sustr (Nebraska Omaha); D, Jake McCabe (Wisconsin); G, Wilcox.
All-rookie team: F, Tony Cameranesi (Minnesota Duluth); F, Alex Petan (Michigan Tech); F, Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota); D, Nolan Zajac (Denver); D, Andy Welinski (UMD); G, Williams.
You can read the full release at www.wcha.com/men/pres1213/201303/mar14wcm.php