In each of the past 10 years, either Wisconsin or Minnesota has won the WCHA Women’s League regular-season title, so it’s no surprise that the conference’s coaches think highly of the Badgers and Gophers in 2020-21.

On Monday, the seven WCHA coaches picked Wisconsin to win the conference and the Gophers as a close second in their preseason poll. The Badgers received 34 points and four of seven first-place votes to edge Minnesota, which had 31 points and the other three first-place votes. Ohio State, last season’s WCHA tournament champion, was third with 28 points, followed by Minnesota Duluth (21), Bemidji State (14), Minnesota State (13) and St. Cloud State (6). Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

Wisconsin forward Daryl Watts was named preseason player of the year, garnering three votes. Ohio State forward Emma Maltais received two votes, and Gophers forward Grace Zumwinkle and Minnesota Duluth forward Gabbie Hughes each received one.

Gophers forward Abbey Murphy received four votes and was named preseason rookie of the year. Receiving one vote were Gophers forward Anne Cherkowski, St. Cloud State forward Emma Gentry and Wisconsin forward Casey O’Brien.

The All-WCHA first team included Watts, Maltais and Wisconsin’s Sophie Shirley at forward, the Gophers’ Emily Brown and Minnesota Duluth’s Ashton Bell on defense, and Ohio State goalie Andrea Braendli.

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