Senior goalie Amanda Leveille of the Gophers was named the WCHA's defensive player of the week after back-to-back shutouts last weekend over No. 8 North Dakota.

Leveille made a season-high 29 saves in Friday's 3-0 win over UND, and 28 in Saturday's 0-0 overtime tie. The Fighting Hawks won the ensuing shootout 2-1. She has seven shutouts this season.

Among NCAA goalies this season, Leveille's 1.29 goals-against average is the fourth lowest.

U strong up middle in baseball

Michigan's baseball team was picked as the Big Ten favorite in a coaches' preseason poll. Coaches voted only on the top six and the Gophers were not in that group.

All coaches also picked three of their athletes as players to watch. Minnesota coach John Anderson's picks were junior catcher Austin Athmann, senior center fielder Dan Motl, and senior starting pitcher Dalton Sawyer. That suggests the Gophers should be strong up the middle on defense. Minnesota open its season versus Utah on Feb. 19 in Surprise, Ariz.


• The No. 14 Gophers softball team opens its season this weekend with five games in the Sportco Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. Minnesota will play Utah Valley and No. 9 Oklahoma on Friday, Texas Tech and Long Beach State on Saturday, and No. 20 Washington on Sunday.