Led by a pair of first-team all-conference picks, Penn State is the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten hockey championship by a vote of the conference coaches, the league announced Monday. The Gophers, who finished third last season but have 12 newcomers to the team, are picked fifth. Minnesota forward Sammy Walker, last season’s Big Ten freshman of the year, was named to the all-conference second team.
The Nittany Lions, who scored a nation’s-best 4.54 goals per game last season, return 20 letter-winners from a team that finished fourth in the regular season and advanced to the Big Ten tournament final. Notre Dame, which won the Big Ten tournament, is picked second, followed by Wisconsin, defending regular-season champion Ohio State, the Gophers, Michigan and Michigan State.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman K’Andre Miller of Minnetonka and Notre Dame senior goalie Cale Morris were unanimous selections to the preseason All-Big Ten first team. They are joined by Penn State forwards Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges, Ohio State forward Tanner Laczynski and Wisconsin defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk.
Joining Walker on the second team are Michigan forward Will Lockwood, Michigan State forward Mitchell Lewandowski and defenseman Dennis Cesana, Penn State defenseman Cole Hults and Ohio State goalie Tommy Nappier.
Honorable mention spots went to Michigan State forward Patrick Khodorenko and defenseman Jerad Rosburg, Michigan defenseman Cam York and goalie Hayden Lavigne, Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield and Penn State defenseman Kris Myllari.