The 2017-18 college hockey season officially got underway today with the annual WCHA women’s coaches conference call. The NCHC will begin releasing its preseason poll and teams next week. NCHC Media day is next Wednesday (Sept. 20) at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Below are some highlights from Tuesday’s WCHA women’s coaches conference call, starting with the annual preseason coaches’ poll.
WCHA Women’s Preseason Coaches Poll
Team, first-place votes, points
1. Minnesota (4) 34
2. Wisconsin (3) 33
t3. Minnesota Duluth 23
t3. Ohio State 23
5. Bemidji State 14
6. St. Cloud State 11
7. Minnesota State-Mankato 9
WCHA preseason player of the year: Kassidy Sauve, RS-Jr, G, Ohio State
WCHA preseason rookie of the year: Grace Zumwinkle, F, Minnesota
UMD freshman forward Ashton Bell (a former North Dakota recruit) also received a vote in the WCHA preseason rookie of the year voting.
Starting goaltending job wide open
The Bulldogs will go into 2017-18 with no clear cut starter in goal, according to head coach Maura Crowell. Sophomore Catherine Johnson, freshman Hanna Markel and senior-transfer Jessica Convery will all try and fill the void left by junior Maddie Rooney, who is with the U.S. National Team this season.
“It’s going to depend on who is ready to go, who is in shape, who knows what we’re looking for and who has the confidence to play,” Crowell said. “All of those things will have to become a little clearer as we practice for a few weeks.”
Gophers, Badgers playing shorthanded in 2017-18
Wisconsin and Minnesota both lost a pair of forwards to Olympic teams this season.
The Gophers will be without senior forward Kelly Pannek (USA) and junior forward Sarah Potomak (Canada), while Bucky is without senior forward Annie Pankowski (USA) and Emily Clark (Canada). All four finished in the top five in conference scoring a year ago.
Unlike UMD, a one-year-eligible replacement didn’t drop into into the Badgers or Gophers’ laps, so they’ll play with just 12 forwards this season.
“It’s just something where our players know they’re going to have plenty of opportunities and it’s going to be real difficult for us,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “We need to avoid injuries, we need to get great goaltending.”
WCHA getting a lot of attention, but not a lot of bucks from crowdfunding
The WCHA launched a crowdfunding campaign at wcha.rallyme.com in late January and so far five of the seven areas the league is taking donations for remain at $0.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the league has raised $50 toward its postgraduate scholarship and $2,253 in support of the league’s operations fund. Still, commissioner Katie Million said Tuesday she was pleased with the attention the campaign has brought the league — like getting a New York Times reporter on Tuesday’s teleconference.
“Every dollar that comes in and every article that’s written and any post on social media that comes in because of this is a plus for me,” said Million.