I'm a big believer in full disclosure.
You should know, before reading anything about UMD hockey, that I cover the Bulldogs for KDAL Radio, and frankly, I'm not willing or able to hide my biases.
Along those lines, I also take seriously the privilege of being able to vote on the annual WCHA honors. Select members of the media that cover each league team get to do this. Frankly, I think we do a very good job every year (though Wisconsin fans will never forgive us for voting Bobby Goepfert of St. Cloud State the first team all-league goalie two years ago, when Bucky's Brian Elliott was a Hobey Hat Trick finalist).
This year's voting was completed earlier this week (imagine that - voting for all-league honors that actually takes place after the regular season is over - take that, Pro Bowl!!). Here are my choices, with commentary when I think it's warranted.
First team - Chad Rau, Colorado College; T.J. Oshie, North Dakota; Ryan Lasch, St. Cloud State
Second team - Blake Wheeler, Minnesota; Garrett Roe, St. Cloud State; Kyle Turris, Wisconsin
Third team - Mick Berge, Minnesota State; Ryan Duncan, North Dakota; Andreas Nodl, St. Cloud State
Apologies to - Peter Rouleau, Michigan Tech; Trevor Bruess, Minnesota State; Chris VandeVelde, North Dakota
I thought Rau was the most complete offensive player in the league, followed closely by Oshie. Lasch has incredible playmaking ability and isn't bad at scoring goals himself. I felt badly not voting for Rouleau, who worked his tail off to become a major contributor at Tech and is a lot of fun to watch.
First team - Jack Hillen, Colorado College; Taylor Chorney, North Dakota
Second team - Jason Garrison, UMD; Robbie Bina, North Dakota
Third team - Patrick Mullen, Denver; Jamie McBain, Wisconsin
Apologies to - David Fischer, Minnesota
Garrison is a bit of a homer vote on my part (I allow myself one per year), but it's totally defensible. His ability to carry the puck, his shot, and his physical play have been sorely missed over the last month. We hope to miss them no longer as of Friday.
First team - Richard Bachman, Colorado College
Second team - Alex Stalock, UMD
Third team - Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, North Dakota
Apologies to - Michael-Lee Teslak, Michigan Tech
Stalock is a legit league Player of the Year candidate, but I would be insane not to vote for Bachman, who is a major reason why Colorado College is in line to be the top seed for their home regional in two weeks. Don't kid yourself - this team is really good. But Bachman has saved them from at least a couple lackluster efforts. Like Stalock at UMD, you can count on one or two fingers the number of poor games he has had. Consistency is what separates these three from the next group of goalies in this league, led by Teslak.
ALL-WCHA ROOKIE TEAM
Forwards - Tyler Bozak, Denver; Garrett Roe, St. Cloud State; Kyle Turris, Wisconsin
Apologies to - Mike Hoeffel, Minnesota; Evan Trupp, North Dakota
Roe is the class of this group. Turris is the sizzle. Bozak has the potential to just be really good at hockey. I like Hoeffel a lot, and his numbers don't tell the story of how he played this year. I think UND will miss Trupp a great deal as he recovers from what looked like a freak leg injury in Duluth.
Defensemen - Ben Youds, Minnesota State; Ryan McDonagh, Wisconsin
Not much here. Youds and teammate Kurt Davis are both legit candidates for this team. I believe McDonagh is going to be a force. Cade Fairchild of Minnesota and Evan Oberg of UMD also are off to good starts as collegiate defensemen.
Goalie - Richard Bachman, Colorado College
In any other year, Minnesota's Alex Kangas would take this honor easily. Unfortunately for Kangas, his timing is off.
WCHA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Richard Bachman, Colorado College
WCHA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Richard Bachman, Colorado College
Apologies to - Alex Stalock, G, UMD; T.J. Oshie, F, North Dakota
Seriously, this was the toughest decision I've had to make in my three years voting on this. Bachman just stands out for the reasons I've already laid out. You don't want to read them again. You may not have wanted to read them in the first place. It's fitting in a year where scoring is way down that the two best players in the league, in my view, are both goaltenders.
WCHA COACH OF THE YEAR
Troy Jutting, Minnesota State
Apologies to - Scott Owens, Colorado College
Tough call. I just think Jutting did more in the face of lower expectations and a fan base that doesn't always view him lovingly. Owens is a great coach and a class act, and in my opinion he will win the award, but Jutting's job deserves recognition. CC was expected to make the NCAA Tournament and they will. Minnesota State was expected to finish closer to the bottom of the WCHA than the top, then got off to a horrible start because their schedule was stupid (nine of first ten games on the road). They finished fourth. Down league, my you-know-what. The Mavs are a great story this year.
Please e-mail thoughts, or just let me know what you think in the comments page. I do this, in part, because I want your feedback on who I missed out on in the voting.