My WCHA Media Poll Ballot: North Dakota No. 1, Bemidji State No. 6, Read preseason player of the year

The WCHA is new to a lot of people in Bemidji. For me, it’s like being reacquainted with an old friend.

With Bemidji State’s inclusion into the league this year, I was asked to participate in the WCHA Media Poll put together by Minnesota-Duluth radio broadcaster Bruce Ciskie. The ballot rules are simple: rank each team from 1-12 in projected regular season finish and select a preseason player of the year and preseason rookie of the year.

I’ve followed the WCHA from mostly from afar since my professional career began in 2005. I covered the Southern Minnesota Express (now Owatonna Express) in the North American League from 2005-07, before that I went to college at St. Cloud State during the Ryan Malone years and before that grew up watching several Minnesota-Duluth hockey games as a fan. So, I’ve got some knowledge of the league and players. I am by no means an expert right now, but I’ve enjoyed following the WCHA as a fan and have attended to nine of the last 10 Final Fives. That’s the disclaimer on my ballot.

My Offical Ballot
1. North Dakota
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. Wisconsin
4. St. Cloud State
5. Minnesota
6. Bemidji State
7. Colorado College
8. Denver
9. Nebraska-Omaha
10. MSU, Mankato
11. Alaska-Anchorage
12. Michigan Tech

Preseason Player of the Year: Matt Read, BSU
Preseason Rookie of the Year: Radoslav Illo, BSU

I know Bemidji State hockey pretty well and have average knowledge of the most of the other 11 teams. This made my ranking process a challenge. I tried to put some reasoning behind my selections and I used schedule strength (the WCHA plays an unbalanced schedule) as a way to guide my selections.

I’m sure I’ll take some criticism outside the Bemidji community for the Read and Illo picks. I don’t care.

I expect Chay Genoway to be the preseason player of the year and he’s quite deserving. I picked Read for a few reasons. He’s an exceptional player who has helped make BSU a great hockey team in his time so far. Read could have signed an NHL contract in the offseason. But he chose to return to Bemidji State to complete his degree and remained committed to his team. He also appreciates the Bemidji community and I’ve seen his dedication to the fans here through a few uncertain years for the program. His commitment to the program, game, academics and community are what Beavers and WCHA hockey is all about. Those are reasons enough for me to vote him Preseason Player of the Year.

Bemidji State forward Matt Read. Bemidji Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

There’s been some buzz around here on Illo since he committed and I think he’ll have an opportunity to see some quality playing time and produce. He could be a breakout freshman for BSU and that would give him a chance to be a WCHA rookie of the year candidate.

Drawing from what I’ve read and my own personal feelings, I think North Dakota will finish at No. 1, Minnesota-Duluth will finish at No. 2 and Wisconsin will finish at No. 3 in the standings. At the bottom, I have Mankato at No. 10, Alaska-Anchorage at No. 11 and Michigan Tech at No. 12. If the standings actually turns out the way I see it, teams at the top benefit from playing from playing a fair amount against the bottom of the league and a minimum against teams projected to be in the top of the league. I didn’t follow this formula absolutely, but it helped me with some tiebreakers.

Here’s my notes below on those matchups. Maybe you’ll find it interesting.

Team Games Summary vs my projected (Top 3 teams/Bottom 3 teams):
1. North Dakota (4/6)
2. Duluth (6/6)
3. Wisconsin (6/8)
4. St. Cloud State (6/6)
5. Minnesota (6/8)
6. Bemidji State (8/6)
7. Colorado College (6/8)
8. Denver (6/8)
9. Omaha (8/6)
10. Mankato (6/6)
11. Anchorage (6/6)
12. Tech (8/6)

Games against my projected bottom 3 teams:
A= 2 away games; H=2 home games
1. North Dakota

  • A vs. Tech
  • H vs. Anchorage
  • A vs. Mankato

2. Minnesota-Duluth

  • H/A vs. Tech
  • H vs. Anchorage
  • A vs. Mankato

3. Wisconsin

  • H/A vs. Tech
  • A vs. Anchorage
  • H vs. Mankato

4. St. Cloud State

  • H vs. Tech
  • A vs. Anchorage
  • H vs. Mankato

5. Minnesota

  • H/A vs. Tech
  • H vs. Anchorage
  • A vs. Mankato

6. Bemidji State

  • A vs. Tech
  • H vs. Anchorage
  • A vs. Mankato

7. Colorado College

  • A vs. Tech,
  • H/A vs. Anchorage
  • H/A vs. Mankato

8. Denver

  • H vs. Tech
  • H/A vs. Anchorage
  • H/A vs. Mankato

9. Nebraska-Omaha

  • H vs. Tech
  • A vs. Anchorage
  • H vs. Mankato

10. MSU, Mankato

  • A vs. Tech,
  • H/A vs. Anchorage

11. Alaska-Anchorage

  • H vs. Tech
  • H/A vs. Mankato

12. Michigan Tech

  • A vs. Anchorage
  • H vs. Mankato

1. North Dakota (6 total, 2 home series vs. Anchorage)
2. Minnesota Duluth (6 total, 4 homeĀ  series vs. Anchorage and Tech)
3. Wisconsin (8 total, 4 home series vs. Tech and Mankato)
4. St. Cloud State (6 total, 4 home series vs. Tech and Mankato)
5. Minnesota (8 total, 4 home series vs. Tech and Anchorage)
6. Bemidji State (6 total, 2 home series vs. Anchorage)
7. Colorado College (8 total, home series vs. Anchorage and Mankato)
8. Denver (8 total, home series vs. Anchorage and Mankato)
9. Omaha (6 total, home series vs. Tech and Mankato)
10. Mankato (6 total, home series vs. Anchorage)
11. Anchorage (6 total, home series vs. Tech and Mankato)
12. Tech (4 total, home series vs. Mankato)

Games against my projected top 3 teams
A= 2 away games; H=2 home games
1. North Dakota

  • H vs. Duluth
  • A vs. Wisconsin

2. Duluth

  • A vs. North Dakota
  • H/A vs. Wisconsin

3. Wisconsin

  • H vs. North Dakota
  • H/A vs. Duluth

4. St. Cloud State

  • H/A vs. North Dakota
  • A vs. Duluth

5. Minnesota

  • H/A vs. Duluth
  • A vs. North Dakota

6. Bemidji State

  • H/A vs. North Dakota
  • H vs. Duluth
  • A vs. Wisconsin

7. Colorado College

  • H vs. North Dakota
  • H vs. Duluth
  • A vs. Wisconsin

8. Denver

  • A vs. North Dakota
  • A vs. Duluth
  • H vs. Wisconsin

9. Omaha

  • H/A vs. North Dakota
  • A vs. Duluth
  • H vs. Wisconsin

10. Mankato

  • H vs. North Dakota
  • H vs. Duluth
  • A vs. Wisconsin

11. Anchorage

  • A vs. North Dakota
  • A vs. Duluth
  • H vs. Wisconsin

12. Tech

  • H vs. North Dakota
  • H/A vs. Duluth
  • H/A vs. Wisconsin

1. North Dakota (4 total, home series vs. Duluth)
2. Duluth (6 total, home series vs. Wisconsin)
3. Wisconsin (6 total, home series vs. North Dakota and Duluth)
4. St. Cloud State (6 total, home series vs. North Dakota)
5. Minnesota (6 total, home series vs. Duluth)
6. Bemidji State (8 total, home series vs. North Dakota and Duluth)
7. Colorado College (6 total, home series vs. North Dakota and Duluth)
8. Denver (6 total, home series vs. Wisconsin)
9. Omaha (8 total, home vs. North Dakota and Wisconsin)
10. Mankato (6 total, home vs. North Dakota and Duluth)
11. Anchorage (6 total, home vs. Wisconsin
12. Tech (8 total, home vs. Duluth and Wisconsin)

Just for fun

I also consulted with my father on my ballot. He’s been a UMD season ticket holder since the 1984-85 season and he’s watched the league more than me in recent years. He’s a UMD alumni and obviously an avid Bulldog fan. He was at the NCAA Championship game in Lake Placid when UMD lost to Bowling Green 5-4 in four overtimes. Gino Cavelleni scored the game-winner in that game. That name’s a four-letter word in my household.

Here’s his predictions for this year:
1. North Dakota
2. Wisconsin
3. Minnesota-Duluth
4. Minnesota
5. St. Cloud State
6. Bemidji State
7. Colorado College
8. Denver
9. Nebraska-Omaha
10. MSU, Mankato
11. Alaska-Anchorage
12. Michigan Tech

One thought on “My WCHA Media Poll Ballot: North Dakota No. 1, Bemidji State No. 6, Read preseason player of the year

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