September 25, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

CCHA Coaches, Media Differ on Pick

CHN Staff Report

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — For the second straight year, the coaches and media disagree over who should hold down the No. 1 position in the CCHA's annual preseason polls. The conference's 12 head coaches ranked Miami first while the media voted for defending NCAA champion Michigan State. Defending regular-season and playoff champion Notre Dame placed third in each category.

The RedHawks edged out the Spartans for top honors in the coaches poll despite finishing with one fewer first-place vote (five) compared to Michigan State (six). The Irish are the only other team picked by a coach to finish on top. For the second consecutive year, the Spartans garnered the most first-place votes in both rankings. Notre Dame attracted 13 first-place votes in media balloting with Michigan rounding out selections with the remaining four.

The RedHawks, guided by three-time CCHA Coach-of-the-Year Enrico Blasi, have 20 players returning, including both starting goaltenders, all eight defensemen who suited up last season for the team with the third-best defensive numbers in the conference, and impact senior forwards Ryan Jones and Nathan Davis. Jones, a 2004 draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, is the league's top returning goal scorer after having notched 18 in conference action and 29 in overall games last season.

Davis, selected by Chicago in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, was one of just nine players in the nation in 2006-07 to reach the 50-point plateau (21-29-50).

The Spartans also bring back 20 players from a squad that captured the school's third national championship, and the eighth won by a CCHA member, on April 7 in St. Louis. Michigan State is backstopped by junior goaltender Jeff Lerg, who is 5-1-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in NCAA Tournament play, and led offensively by the potent all-junior combination of leading scorer Tim Kennedy (18-25-33), Frozen Four winning goal-scorer Justin Abdelkader and Pittsburgh draft pick Tim Crowder.

The Irish have 16 lettermen back, including their top five scorers led by Eric Condra (14-34-48) and 2007 All-Rookie Team picks Ryan Thang (20-21-41) and Kevin Deeth (17-22-39). On defense, another All-Rookie Team member, Kyle Lawson, will be joined by freshman Ian Cole, the first, first-round NHL draft choice in school history, who went 18th overall to St. Louis.

Lerg and Davis each garnered 11 first-place votes, making them unanimous selections as repeat members of the CCHA Preseason All-Conference First Team. Davis is joined on the First Team by linemate and Miami captain Ryan Jones, the leading returning goal scorer in the CCHA (29), and Michigan senior captain Kevin Porter, the leading returning point-getter in the league (58).

Davis, Jones, and Porter also comprised the forward unit on last season's CCHA All-Conference Second Team. In addition to Davis and Jones, Miami is represented on the Preseason All-Conference Team by Alec Martinez, who led all defensemen in balloting with seven first-place votes. Notre Dame sophomore Kyle Lawson, a 2006-07 CCHA All-Rookie pick, joins Martinez on the back end of the First Team.

Forwards Condra and Thang, who finished first and second in Notre Dame team scoring last season, were chosen to this season's Second Team along with Tim Kennedy, who led the Michigan State Spartans in scoring en route to their NCAA title, and Michigan's Chad Kolarik, who recorded 45 points as a junior with the Wolverines.

Coaches Poll

1. Miami (5) 114
2. Michigan State (6) 113
3. Notre Dame (1) 105
4. Michigan 92
5. Ohio State 77
6. Nebraska-Omaha 68
7. Lake Superior 52
8. Northern Michigan 48
9. Ferris State 44
10. Western Michigan 41
11. Alaska 25
12. Bowling Green 13

Media Poll

1. Michigan State (25) 701
2. Miami (21) 667
3. Notre Dame (13) 656
4. Michigan (4) 596
5. Ohio State 414
6. Nebraska-Omaha 412
7. Western Michigan 352
8. Ferris State 279
9. Lake Superior State 270
10. Northern Michigan 248
11. Alaska 212
12. Bowling Green 108

2007-08 CCHA Preseason All-Conference Teams

First Team
F Nathan Davis, SR, Miami
F Kevin Porter, SR, Michigan
F Ryan Jones, SR, Miami
D Alec Martinez, JR, Miami
D Kyle Lawson, SO, Notre Dame
G Jeff Lerg, JR, Michigan State

Second Team
F Tim Kennedy, JR, Michigan State
F Erik Condra, JR, Notre Dame
F Chad Kolarik, SR, Michigan
F Ryan Thang, SO, Notre Dame
D Tyler Eckford, SR, Alaska
D Jason DeSantis, JR, Ohio State
G Jeff Zatkoff, JR, Miami

Honorable Mention (next six point totals, regardless of position with first-team votes in parentheses): Mitch Ganzak, SR, Miami, D, (2) 20; Justin Abdelkader, JR, Michigan State, F, 18; Mark Mitera, JR, Michigan, D, 15; Bryan Lerg, SR, Michigan State, F, 14; Riley Gill, SO, Western Michigan, G, 10; Jeff LoVecchio, JR, Western Michigan, F, 9; Eddie Del Grosso, SO, Nebraska-Omaha, D, 9 (1); Juha Uotila, JR, Nebraska-Omaha, 9 (1).

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