Hockey slated to finish 10th by CCHA coaches, 11th by media

Jamie Foland

The Alaska Nanooks have been picked to finish 10th and 11th in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association by the head coaches and media members, respectively, as announced Wednesday in the conference preseason polls.

Alaska finished the 2011-12 campaign with a 12-20-4 overall record and an 8-16-4 conference mark that was good for 10th place. They were predicted to finish fifth in both preseason polls a year ago.

The Blue and Gold return 14 letterwinners from the 2010-11 squad, including nine forwards that accounted for over 95 percent of the team scoring. On the blue line, four veteran defenseman are back. In goal, two returners and one rookie will battle for the starting spot throughout the season.

For the fifth time in seven years, the coaches and media disagreed on who should own the No. 1 position in the CCHA’s annual preseason polls. The conference’s 11 head coaches ranked Notre Dame first for the second consecutive season, while voting from 87 members of the media tabbed Michigan as the preseason favorite.

In the coaches poll, the Fighting Irish captured seven first-place votes and one second, while Michigan took two first-place votes as well as six seconds to come in just five points behind the favorite. Western Michigan, last season’s CCHA Tournament Champion, had the remaining first-place votes to finish third, just three points behind Michigan and eight behind the Irish. Miami finished fourth in the poll while the 2011-12 CCHA Regular-Season Champion and National Runner-Up Ferris State rounded out the top five.

The media voted in favor of Michigan, with Western Michigan coming in second and Notre Dame in third, agreeing with the coaches on which three teams should occupy top three.  The Wolverines picked up 50 of a possible 87 first-place votes, while the Broncos garnered 25 and the Irish received nine first-place votes.  The Bulldogs and RedHawks finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the media poll as well.

The Wolverines, who finished in second place in the regular season, return 20 letterwinners that took them to their 22ndconsecutive NCAA tournament. Included in that list is a pair of defensemen that were named to a Preseason All-Conference Team, with junior Jon Merrill being named to the first team and senior Lee Moffie earning a second-team selection. Michigan also returns seven of its top ten scorers, including last season’s Rookie of the Year, Alex Guptill, who tied for the team lead in scoring a season ago, notching 16 goals and 33 points.

Notre Dame also brings back 20 letterwinners from the 2011-12 season, which saw the Irish finish eighth in the conference. The Irish return their top two scorers in junior forwards T.J. Tynan, last season’s Scoring Co-Champion, and Anders Lee. Both are CCHA Preseason All-Conference First-Team selections and combined for 30 goals and 75 points last season.

The Broncos are the defending CCHA Mason Cup champion and return 15 letterwinners, including a trio of CCHA Preseason All-Conference First Team selections: junior Chase Balisy at forward, junior Dan DeKeyser on defense and sophomore Frank Slubowski in goal. Western Michigan returns their top offensive line of Balisy, junior Shane Berschbach and senior Dane Walters. The trio combined to score 39 goals and 98 points last season, making up almost one-third of the Broncos’ scoring.

Miami is coming off a fourth place finish and returns a young roster of 18 underclassmen, including three freshmen goaltenders. The RedHawks return their second-highest scorer from last season in sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, a Preseason All-Conference Second Team selection. Ferris State hopes to build off last season’s success, returning 18 letterwinners, including three of their top five scorers.

A total of 87 media members ranked the 11 CCHA teams in projected order of finish for the regular season. Points were awarded on an 11-10-9-8, etc., basis. League coaches ranked the CCHA teams, excluding their own school, in the order they predicted the regular season will end.

2012 CCHA Coaches Poll1st Place VotesPoints
1. Notre Dame7105
2. Michigan2100
3. Western Michigan297
4. Miami78
5. Ferris State67
6. Ohio State66
7. Michigan State56
8. Bowling Green43
8. Northern Michigan43
10. Alaska31
11. Lake Superior29









2012 CCHA Media Poll1st Place VotesPoints
1. Michigan50903
2. Western Michigan25825
3. Notre Dame9765
4. Ferris State3626
5. Miami622
6. Michigan State528
7. Ohio State438
8. Northern Michigan389
9. Bowling Green264
10. Lake Superior232
11. Alaska150