BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches have picked the Bemidji State University men’s hockey team to finish second in the league’s 2020-21 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, while sophomore blueliner Elias Rosén was voted as a Preseason All-WCHA Defenseman.
A day after the WCHA media slotted the 10-team league, the coaches follow up with the same three teams occupying the top three spots. Defending MacNaughton Cup champion, Minnesota State University, Mankato garnered six of the 10 first-place votes to garner 86 points and solidify its place as the favorite to win the league. Bemidji State was second collecting 79 points and one first-place vote and Bowling Green State University rounded out the top three teams taking the final three first-place votes and 78 points to finish just one point behind BSU. Michigan Technological University collected 64 points to finish fourth and Northern Michigan University was fifth in the poll with 63 points in the only difference between the coaches’ poll and the media poll.
Bowling Green’s senior forward, Brandon Kruse, and Minnesota State’s junior goaltender, Dryden McKay shared top individual honors. Each received four votes in the league’s Preseason Player of the Year balloting. In addition, MSU’s Akito Hirose earned WCHA’s Preseason Rookie of the Year award, while seven players, including BSU’s Rosén were picked to the Preseason All-WCHA Team.
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, with seven, and anchors a spot on the coaches’ Preseason All-WCHA Team. He finished the 2019-20 season fourth on the team in scoring with 24 points (5g-19a), 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 paced all BSU rookies in scoring, he also led WCHA newcomers, was second among all WCHA blueliners with 22 points in league play (4g-18a) and ranked second in scoring among freshman defenders across the country. He recorded a season-high two goals at Alabama-Huntsville (1/9/20). In addition, he finished the season with a +7 plus/minus rating and ranked fifth on the team with 23 blocked shots.
Rosén earned the same recognition from the WCHA’s media Nov. 9.
2020-21 Preseason WCHA Coaches’ Poll
Rk Team (1st place votes) Points
1. Minnesota State (6) 86
2. Bemidji State (1) 79
3. Bowling Green (3) 78
5. Michigan Tech 64
4. Northern Michigan 63
6. Lake Superior State 49
7. Alaska 40
8. Ferris State 35
9. Alaska Anchorage 28
10. Alabama Huntsville 18
Predicted order of finish. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 scale. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.
WCHA Coaches’ Preseason Co-Players of the Year
Dryden McKay, Jr., G, Minnesota State (4)
Brandon Kruse, Sr., F, Bowling Green (4)
Others receiving votes: Connor Ford, Sr., F, Bowling Green (1); Trenton Bliss, Jr., F, Michigan Tech (1).
WCHA Coaches’ Preseason Rookie of the Year
Akito Hirose, D, Minnesota State (3)
Others receiving votes: Carson Bantle, F, Michigan Tech (2); Brandon Furry, F, Minnesota State (2); Jake Livingstone, D, Minnesota State (1); Logan Stein, G, Ferris State (1); Ethan Scardina, F, Bowling Green (1).
WCHA Coaches’ Preseason All-WCHA Team
Griffin Loughran, Jr., Northern Michigan (7); Brandon Kruse, Sr., Bowling Green (7); Connor Ford, Sr., Bowling Green (4); Lucas Sowder, So., Minnesota State (1).
Others receiving votes: Owen Sillinger, Jr, Bemidji State (3); Nathan Smith, So., Minnesota State (3); Alex Broetzman, Jr., Michigan Tech (1); Trenton Bliss, Jr., Michigan Tech (1).
Elias Rosén, So., Bemidji State (7); Chris Jandric, Jr., Alaska (6).
Others Receiving Votes: Jake Willets, So., Ferris State (4); Colin Swoyer, Jr., Michigan Tech (3).
Dryden McKay, Jr., Minnesota State (7).
Others Receiving Votes: Zach Driscoll, Sr., Bemidji State (3).
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)