September 27, 2005 PRINT Bookmark and Share

OSU Nabs CCHA Top Spot

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Ohio State, returning 21 letterwinners to a team that placed second in the CCHA regular season and conference tournament, was selected first in the preseason CCHA poll by the coaches and media. The coaches' selection was unanimous.

"Polls are great, but they're based on potential," said Ohio State coach John Markell, speaking at the CCHA Media Day gathering. "A lot of teams here have potential."

Michigan ranked second in both polls, earning seven first-place votes from the media. Michigan State and Northern Michigan were the only other teams to garner first-place votes in the media poll.

The Buckeyes have never won a CCHA regular-season title. Two years ago, the Buckeyes won the CCHA Tournament. Last season ended with a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Cornell in the NCAA West Regional, a game in which the Buckeyes led 2-0.

Ohio State is led by preseason All-CCHA First Team selections senior goaltender David Caruso and senior forward Rod Pelley. The roster also features dynamic sophomore forward Tom Fristche, and standout senior defenseman Nate Guenin.

Ohio State's advantage over other teams is in goal. Contenders Michigan (Al Montoya), Miami (Brandon Crawford-West) and Bowling Green (Jordan Sigalet) all lost their top goaltenders to the pros or graduation.

"The CCHA has been about quality goaltending," said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. "This is one year with such a turnover of so many goalies with great credentials."

Michigan, which looks to defend its regular-season and CCHA Tournament titles, is led by junior forward T.J. Hensick, the defending conference scoring champion, and CCHA All-Conference Second Team selection junior defenseman Matt Hunwick. In search of their 16th straight NCAA Tournament bid, the Wolverines will depend on a roster that features 11 freshmen, including defenseman Jack Johnson, who was selected third overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in this year's NHL Entry Draft. The Wolverines will miss Montoya, despite his mediocre season in 2004-05, and senior-to-be Jeff Tambellini, who signed a pro deal.

With a lineup boasting 11 NHL draft picks, Northern Michigan, which returns last year's Best Defensive Defenseman award winner senior Nathan Oystrick, and returns the top eight scorers and seven defensemen from last season, sits in third place on both polls. Michigan State, led by junior goaltender Dominic Vicari is fourth, and Alaska-Fairbanks earned fifth-place honors in both polls.

Coaches Poll
1. Ohio State (11) 121
2. Michigan (1) 108
3. Northern Michigan 96
4. Michigan State 93
5. Nebraska-Omaha 78
6. Miami 69
7. Alaska Fairbanks 65
8. Bowling Green State 50
9. Notre Dame 36
10. Ferris State 28
11. Lake Superior State 23
12. Western Michigan 22

Media Poll
1. Ohio State (45) 622
2. Michigan (7) 581
3. Northern Michigan (1) 494
4. Michigan State (1) 432
5. Nebraska-Omaha 380
6. Alaska Fairbanks 372
7. Miami 368
8. Bowling Green State 300
9. Notre Dame 196
10. Western Michigan 179
11. Lake Superior State 159
12. Ferris State 112

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