(Y'all don't care, but sorry I couldn't make it, as it's my 15th wedding anniversary, and I'd like to make it to 16 and beyond.)
(And yes, I feel old sometimes.)
Anyway, the league announced the results of its annual preseason polls. Media were asked to pick the order of finish (eight-way tie for first was not an option) and an all-league team. My votes were already published on the blog here.
After finishing second in the inaugural season of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, North Dakota has been tabbed as the favorite to win the NCHC regular-season title in 2014-15 by media, as the conference released the NCHC Preseason Poll Thursday in advance of its Media Day.Here's the release on the preseason all-NCHC team.
North Dakota totaled 181 points from the 25 media members who voted in the poll, including receiving 12 first-place votes, the most of any team. Three different teams received at least one first-place vote with Miami coming in second in the preseason poll with 167 points and nine first-place votes. St. Cloud State, the defending Penrose Cup champions, was selected to finish third, receiving 151 points in the poll, including four first-place votes.
Coming in fourth in the NCHC Preseason Poll was Denver, who finished 2013-14 strong by capturing the inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship. The Pioneers collected 117 points, while Minnesota Duluth was right behind in fifth with 112 points. Omaha placed sixth in the poll, compiling 73 points, while Western Michigan was just behind in seventh with 67 points. Rounding out the preseason poll was Colorado College, which finished seventh a season ago and received 32 points from the media.
North Dakota returns 20 letterwinners from a 2013-14 squad that finished 25-14-3 overall, including placing second in the NCHC at 15-9-0 after losing out on the regular-season title to SCSU on the final night of the season. UND advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four a season ago and is primed for another strong run, boasting a roster with 14 NHL draft picks, including junior goaltender Zane McIntyre, who was a unanimous NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team selection.
Miami, who was the NCHC preseason favorite a season ago, struggled in the NCHC’s inaugural season, finishing eighth with a record of 15-20-3 overall and 6-17-1-1 in conference play. But the RedHawks showed promise late in the season, making a run to the Frozen Faceoff championship game before falling to Denver. Miami brings back 19 letterwinners from that team, including NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team selections senior forward Austin Czarnik and junior forward Riley Barber, who finished first and second respectively in the overall NCHC scoring race in 2013-14.
St. Cloud State, the lone other team to receive first-place votes, won the inaugural regular-season title with a record of 15-6-3-0 and finished 22-11-5 overall while reaching the NCAA West Regional Final. The Huskies bring back 21 letterwinners from that team, led by junior forward Jonny Brodzinski, who was selected to the NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team.
NCHC Preseason Poll
1. North Dakota – 181 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Miami – 167 (9)
3. St. Cloud State – 151 (4)
4. Denver – 117 (0)
5. Minnesota Duluth – 112 (0)
6. Omaha – 73 (0)
7. Western Michigan - 67 (0)
8. Colorado College – 32 (0)
Five NCHC teams are represented on the six-man NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team, led by two from Miami in senior forward Austin Czarnik and junior forward Riley Barber. The lone unanimous selection on the team is North Dakota junior goaltender Zane McIntyre, who was listed on all 25 ballots. Rounding out the group of forwards is St. Cloud State junior forward Jonny Brodzinski, while the defensive pair of Denver senior Joey LaLeggia and Colorado College sophomore Jaccob Slavin complete the team.
Czarnik, who received 23 votes, was a NCHC First-Team All-Conference selection last year after leading the NCHC with both 34 assists and 47 points in 37 games a season ago. Brodzinski, who compiled 19 votes, was named NCHC Honorable Mention in 2013-14 while finishing fourth in the conference with 41 points, including 21 goals. Barber (12 votes) was a NCHC Second-Team All-Conference pick last season while finishing second in the overall scoring race behind his teammate Czarnik with 44 points, including 19 goals.
Anchoring the blue line is LaLeggia (19 votes), who is the lone other returning First-Team All-NCHC selection along with Czarnik. LaLeggia, the reigning NCHC Defenseman of the Year, tied for the NCHC lead among defensemen in 2013-14 with 25 points and had a NCHC-best 12 goals among blueliners on the season. Slavin (13 votes), who was the inaugural NCHC Rookie of the Year, shared the defenseman scoring lead with LaLeggia by also tallying 25 points, including 20 assists – tops among NCHC defensemen.
Completing the Preseason All-NCHC Team is McIntyre, who garnered NCHC Honorable Mention as a sophomore. McIntyre compiled a conference-best 1.99 goals-against average a season ago, while posting a .926 save percentage and went 20-10-3 between the pipes with the 20 wins tying for the league lead.
The NCHC Preseason Poll will be released Thursday in advance of Media Day.
The NCHC’s second season begins with four exhibition games Saturday, Oct. 4 while regular-season play begins Friday, Oct. 10 with seven of the eight teams in action. Conference play opens the following Friday, Oct. 17 as Omaha travels to Western Michigan and North Dakota heads to Colorado College. Watch over 100 games live throughout the season on NCHC.tv.
NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team
F - Austin Czarnik, Miami, Sr. – 23 votes
F – Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State, Jr. – 19 votes
F – Riley Barber, Miami, Jr. – 12 votes
D – Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr. – 19 votes
D – Jaccob Slavin, Colorado College, So. – 13 votes
G – Zane McIntyre, North Dakota, Jr. – 25 votes (unanimous)