MADISON, Wis. – The 2012-13 Bemidji State University women’s hockey team was chosen to finish where it ended up last year in its conference—sixth—in the WCHA Head Coaches’ Pre-Season Poll on Tuesday. The Beavers, under the direction of head coach Steve Sertich, finished 17-17-3 with a 11-15-2-0 record in the WCHA and a 6-0-1 nonconference ledger a season ago. Sertich, the 2009-10 WCHA Coach of the Year, returns for a seventh season this year.
Leading the poll was the defending NCAA champion University of Minnesota, who received six of the eight first-place votes, followed by the 2011-12 national runner-up University of Wisconsin and NCAA Tournament participant University of North Dakota, who tied for second and each received one first-place vote. Also in front of BSU was the University of Minnesota Duluth in fourth and Ohio State University in fifth. Those spots are where the Bulldogs and Buckeyes finished last year. Behind Bemidji State were Minnesota State University, Mankato in seventh and St. Cloud State University in eighth.
Wisconsin forward Brianna Decker was tabbed as the conference’s pre-season player of the year with Minnesota’s Amanda Kessel and North Dakota’s Jocelyne Lamoureux also receiving votes. Gopher freshman Hannah Brandt was unanimously selected as the league’s top rookie heading into the season.
This year’s BSU women’s hockey team will return 20 players from 2011-12, including its top two scorers from a year ago in leading scorer Sadie Lundquist (Sr., F, Cloquet, Minn.) and leading goal-scorer Emily Erickson (Sr., F, Coleraine, Minn.). The Beavers will also return USA Hockey National Festival participant Erika Wheelhouse (Sr., D, Crookston, Minn.) and her 24 points on the blueline. Lundquist and Wheelhouse are team captains, while fellow senior MacKenzie Thurston (F, Ottawa, Ont.) will wear an “A” as assistant captain.
In goal, returning senior Jessica Havel (Sr. Grand Rapids, Minn.) will look to help fill the hole left by the depatures of Zuzana Tomcikova and Alana McElhinney, who graduated after 2011-12. Last year, Tomcikova was a CCM Division I Women’s Hockey Second Team All-American selection, was First-Team All-WCHA, and was a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award nominee. Competing with Havel for playing time in net will be Niagara University transfer Abby Ryplanski (So., Winnipeg, Man.) and freshman Alexane Rodrigue (Monkland, Ont.).
The Beavers first hit the ice this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sanford Center for the Green/White game. Next week, BSU travels to Providence College for its first official series of the year. Bemidji State will have its home-opening series and will see its first WCHA competition the following week when St. Cloud comes to town. The Beavers will then head to Madison, Wis. to open the Badgers’ brand-new LaBahn Arena.
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