Minnesota State Picked to Lead New-Look WCHA
CHN Staff Report
MANKATO, Minn. It's a whole new world for the WCHA. The storied conference has produced more national champions than any other, but now, most of its signature programs have departed for other conferences, and a new league was born out of holdovers, CCHA refugees, and Alabama-Huntsville.
With that setup, the league coaches selected Minnesota State as the frontrunner, giving them nine of 10 first-place votes in their preseason poll, released today. The Mavericks, who are coming off their best season in a decade, also have the Preseason Player of the Year in junior forward Matt Leitner and the Preseason Rookie of the Year in freshman forward Zach Stepan.
Ferris State was picked to finish second in the league, edging Michigan Tech, which received the other first-place vote.
Leitner, a third-team All-WCHA pick last season and the fourth returning point-scorer in the nation (17-30—47), received five votes for Preseason Player of the Year. Michigan Tech sophomore forward Alex Petan (15-19—34) an All-WCHA Rookie Team selection last season, received two votes.
Stepan, a forward who comes to Minnesota State from the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks, received eight votes for Preseason Rookie of the Year. He was a fourth-round draft pick of the NHL’s Nashville Predators in 2012.
WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll
1 Minnesota State
2 Ferris State
3 Michigan Tech
4 Bowling Green
6 Northern Michigan
7 Bemidji State
8 Lake Superior State
9 Alaska Anchorage
Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
Matt Leitner, Jr., F, Minnesota State
Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
Zach Stepan, F, Minnesota State
Preseason All-WCHA Team
Forwards: Matt Leitner, Jr., Minnesota State; Ryan Carpenter, Jr., Bowling Green; Alex Petan, So., Michigan Tech.
Defensemen: Zach Palmquist, Jr., Minnesota State; Jason Binkley, Jr., Ferris State.
Goaltender: Stephon Williams, So., Minnesota State.