BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Media from across footprint of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association have picked the Bemidji State University men’s hockey team to finish second in 2020-21 WCHA Preseason Media Poll, while the league’s media selected the BSU’s Owen Sillinger and Elias Rosén to the Preseason All-WCHA Team.
Defending MacNaughton Cup champion, Minnesota State University, Mankato was selected to repeat, garnering all 10 first-place votes to total 100 points. Bemidji State was second recording 89 points, Bowling Green State University was third with 76 points, Northern Michigan University took 68 points and fourth place in the poll, while Michigan Technological University was just one point back (67) to round out the top five teams.
Minnesota State’s junior goaltender Dryden McKay was the media’s pick as the league’s Preseason Player of the Year after tallying six first-place votes and 25 points, while Northern Michigan’s Griffin Loughran was second with 21 points and four first place votes and BSU’s Sillinger finished third with six points.
A Second Team All-WCHA pick a year ago, Sillinger was one of three forwards voted onto the Preseason All-WCHA squad. He recorded a career-high 34 points (14g-20a) to match Adam Brady for the team’s scoring lead. Seeing time in all 37 games during his second season in a Bemidji State sweater, his 20 assists led the team, while his three power-play goals were second only to Brady's NCAA-best 12. Sillinger came on strong as the season rolled on. He assembled a pair of five-game point streaks and recorded 20 points in 13 games between Jan. 3 and Feb. 22, three times posting three points in a single game. In 28 WCHA games, Sillinger recorded 27 points (9g-18a), while his 18 assists in conference play was tied for second among all WCHA skaters. He logged a season-high two goals, including the game-winner in a 4-1 victory over Ferris State (11/16/19) and matched a career-high three points with (3a) in a 5-2 win at Northern Michigan (2/15/20).
After earning a spot on the All-WCHA Third Team as well as being named to the All-Rookie Team in 2019-20, Rosén was the top point-getter among blueliners to anchor a spot on the Preseason All-WCHA team. He finished fourth on the team in scoring with 24 points (5g-19a) in 2019-20, while sitting second with 19 assists and 14 points (2g-12a) on the man advantage. Rosén made his collegiate debut for BSU against St. Cloud State (10/11/19) and saw time in 35-of-37 games. He assembled a five-game point streak as a rookie and netted four multi-point games, which included a three-point (1g-2a) night, Nov. 22, to lead BSU to a 7-0 victory versus Alabama-Huntsville. He not only led all BSU rookies in scoring, he also paced WCHA newcomers and was second among all WCHA blueliners with 22 points in league play (4g-18a). He recorded a season-high two goals at Alabama-Huntsville (1/9/20). I addition, he finished the season with a +7 plus/minus rating and ranked fifth on the team with 23 blocked shots.
The duo of Sillinger and Rosén are the first Beavers to be recognized with Preseason All-WCHA accolades since Gerry Fitzgerald and Michael Bitzer were selected for the honor prior to the 2017-18 campaign.
2020-21 Preseason WCHA Media Poll
Rk Team (1st place votes) Points
1. Minnesota State (10) 100
2. Bemidji State 89
3. Bowling Green 76
4. Northern Michigan 68
5. Michigan Tech 67
6. Lake Superior State 44
7. Alaska 40
8. Ferris State 33
9. Alaska Anchorage 21
10. Alabama Huntsville 12
Predicted order of finish. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.
Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
Dryden McKay, Jr., G, Minnesota State (25)
Others receiving votes: Griffin Loughran, Jr., F, Northern Michigan (21); Owen Sillinger, Jr., F, Bemidji State (5); Zach Driscoll, Sr., G, Bemidji State (2); Brandon Kruse, Sr., F, Bowling Green (2); Nathan Smith, So., F, Minnesota State (2); Connor Ford, Sr., F, Bowling Green (1); Colin Swoyer, Jr., D, Michigan Tech (1).
Based on a 3-2-1 scale.
Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
Carson Bantle, F, Michigan Tech (16)
Others receiving votes: Akito Hirose, D, Minnesota State (14); Tanner Edwards, F, Minnesota State (3), Connor Gregga, F, Minnesota State (3); Anton Malmstrom, D, Bowling Green (3); Lukas Sillinger, F, Bemidji State (3); Aaron Myers, F, Bemidji State (3); Ondrej Pavel, F, Minnesota State (3); Grant Johnson, F, Northern Michigan (3); Jed Pietila, D, Michigan Tech (2); Jake Livingstone, D, Minnesota State (2); Jett Jungles, F, Northern Michigan (2); Logan Stein, G, Ferris State (1); Joshua Wildauer, F, Lake Superior State (1); Mack Byers, F, Northern Michigan (1).
Based on a 3-2-1 scale.
Preseason All-WCHA Team
Griffin Loughran, Jr., Northern Michigan (10); Connor Ford, Sr., Bowling Green (7); Owen Sillinger, Jr., Bemidji State (5).
Elias Rosén, So., Bemidji State (9; Jake Willets, So., Ferris State (6).
Dryden McKay, Jr., Minnesota State (10).
The media poll voting board was comprised of one representative from each of the league’s 10 media markets.
The Beavers are coming off a 2019-20 season during which they finished with a 22-10-5 overall record and a 20-5-3-2 versus WCHA competition to finish second in the league and clinch a spot in the WCHA Playoffs for the 10th consecutive year before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Beavers, slotted No. 15/16 in the preseason national polls, are set to open a delayed 2020-21 campaign when they host No. 4/5 Minnesota State University, Mankato Nov. 20-21 at Sanford Center. The non-conference series kicks off a 28-game, abbreviated 2020-21 schedule.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
(Portions of this release courtesy the WCHA)