The Gophers women's hockey team, the defending NCAA champions, were picked by WCHA head coaches to finish first in the conference this season in a preseason poll.
Minnesota had six first-place votes, North Dakota and Wisconsin one apiece.
Badgers senior forward Brianna Decker, the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner and WCHA player of the year, was chosen to win the later award again.
Gophers freshman forward Hannah Brandt was the unanimous choice as preseason rookie of the year.
The coaches' preseason poll:
1. Minnesota (6), 48
2 (tie). North Dakota (1), 40
Wisconsin (1), 40
4. Minnesota-Duluth, 32
5. Ohio State, 24
6. Bemidji State, 19
7. Minnesota State, 12
8. St. Cloud State, 9
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Sara Groenewegen put the Gophers softball team on her shoulders this weekend and carried her teammates to the Big Ten tournament title.
The Gophers opened 0-7 last season and struggled to a 21-30 final record. Their 2016 season starts Friday in Arizona.
The Gophers, who have won eight of their past nine games, have to stay hot in the stretch run to make the NCAA tournament.
The Gophers need to finish strong to make the NCAA field again.
The Gophers softball team beat Utah Valley 9-0 and No. 8 Oklahoma 1-0 on Friday in its first two games of the season.
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