Gwozdecky, Cheverie Lead WCHA Awards List
CHN Staff Report
SAINT PAUL, Minn. The five nationally-ranked teams that make up the field for this week’s WCHA Final Five championship all had at least two players named to an all-league team, while MacNaughton Cup champs Denver led with four individual award winners.
Denver junior goaltender Marc Cheverie was named the WCHA Player of the Year, Michigan Tech senior defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich is the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, Wisconsin junior blueliner Brendan Smith was the head coaches’ choice as WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, North Dakota forward Danny Kristo was the WCHA Rookie of the Year, Denver forward Rhett Rakhshani was honored as the WCHA Scoring Champion, DU’s Cheverie was recorgnized as the WCHA Goaltending Champion, and Pioneers’ head coach George Gwozdecky was named the WCHA Coach of the Year.
Named to the All-WCHA Third Team was North Dakota senior defenseman Chay Genoway, who was considered to be a Hobey Baker Award candidate before being injured in November. He played just seven games this season, and hasn't been able to return from the after effects of a concussion.
Cheverie, a junior from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, was also named to the All-WCHA First Team and is the WCHA Goaltending Champion. One of the nation’s elite netminders, he led all WCHA goalies with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage in conference play to lead the Pioneers to the conference regular season title. A four-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, Cheverie enters the postseason leading all goalies in the country with 24 wins (24-4-3) and ranked third nationally in goals-against average (1.94) and first in saves percentage (.937) and winning percentage (.823).
Vlaisavljevich, a senior defenseman from Shoreview, Minn., has been named a WCHA Scholar-Athlete three times and to the All-WCHA Academic Team three times during his collegiate career at Michigan Tech. He currently carries a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average in Bio Medical Engineering and is a candidate for a Rhodes Scholarship. Vlaisavljevich is also among 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for 2009-10. Vlaisavljevich appeared in 111 career games for the Huskies with 10 points.
Brendan Smith, a junior from Mimico, Ontario, also earned All-WCHA First Team honors as the backbone of Wisconsin’s team. A three-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, Smith led all WCHA defensemen during the regular season in goals (11), assists (18) and points (29).
Kristo, a freshman from Prior Lake, Minn., also earned All-WCHA Rookie Team honors. He led all WCHA rookies with 10 goals and ranked second with 23 points during regular-season conference play for North Dakota.
Rakhshani, a senior from Huntington Beach, Calif., led all league players with 35 points (15-20=35) in regular-season conference play for league champion Denver and was also named to the All-WCHA First Team. Heading into the Final Five, Rakhshani had scored 20 goals and set up 29 others for 49 points in 38 games.
Gwozdecky, who led his Denver Pioneers to the WCHA regular season championship and MacNaughton Cup here in 2009-10, is a two-time AHCA (American Hockey Coaches Association) Spencer Penrose Award-winner and now four-time recipient of the league’s coach of the year honor. Gwozdecky led Denver to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005 to become the only person to win an NCAA title as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He has now coached the Pioneers, who enter the Final Five with a nation’s best record of 27-7-4 and are ranked No. 1 in the national polls, to four WCHA regular-season championships. Gwozdecky previously earned the WCHA Coach of the Year award in 1994-95, 2001-02, and 2004-05.
WCHA Major Award Winners for 2009-10
WCHA Player of the Year: Marc Cheverie, Jr., G, Denver
WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year: Eli Vlaisavljevich, Sr., D, Michigan Tech
WCHA Defensive Player of the Year: Brendan Smith, Jr., D, Wisconsin
WCHA Rookie of the Year: Danny Kristo, Fr., F, North Dakota
WCHA Scoring Champion: Rhett Rakhshani, Sr., F, Denver
WCHA Goaltending Champion: Marc Cheverie, Jr., G, Denver
WCHA Coach of the Year: George Gwozdecky, DU
2009-10 All-WCHA First Team
F Rhett Rakhshani, Denver, Sr.
F Blake Geoffrion, Wisconsin, Sr.
F Jack Connolly, Minnesota-Duluth, So.
D Brendan Smith, Wisconsin, Jr.
D Patrick Wiercioch, Denver, So.
G Marc Cheverie, Denver, Jr.
All-WCHA Second Team
F Justin Fontaine, Minnesota-Duluth, Jr.
F Ryan Lasch, St. Cloud State, Sr.
F Tyler Ruegsegger, Denver, Sr.
D Ryan McDonagh, Wisconsin, Jr.
D Nate Prosser, Colorado College, Sr.
G Brad Eidsness, North Dakota, So.
All-WCHA Third Team
F Michael Davies, Wisconsin, Sr.
F Joe Colborne, Denver, So.
F Garrett Roe, St. Cloud State, Jr.
D Garrett Raboin, St. Cloud State, Sr.
D Chay Genoway, North Dakota, Sr.
G Dan Dunn, St. Cloud State, Jr.
All-WCHA Rookie Team
F Danny Kristo, North Dakota
F Craig Smith, Wisconsin
F Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College
D Matt Donovan, Denver
D Justin Schultz, Wisconsin
G Joe Howe, Colorado College