Four teams are represented on the 2015 NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team led by two selections each from Denver and Minnesota Duluth. The Pioneers placed two forwards on the team in junior Trevor Moore and sophomore Danton Heinen, who earned 21 and 20 votes respectively. The third forward is North Dakota senior Drake Caggiula, who garnered 17 votes. UMD senior defenseman Andy Welinski anchors the Preseason All-NCHC defensive pairing with 22 votes while Miami senior Matthew Caito is the other defenseman, receiving 10 votes. Minnesota Duluth sophomore goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo completed the Preseason All-NCHC Team with 14 votes.For those interested, here's how I voted:
Moore (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) was a First-Team All-NCHC selection and the NCHC Forward of the Year as a sophomore in 2014-15, when he led the NCHC with 22 goals and was third in the conference with 44 points in 39 games. His 30 points in conference play also led the NCHC while his 13 goals tied for the league lead. Heinen (Langley, B.C.) was the NCHC Rookie of the Year and a Second-Team All-NCHC recipient a season ago when he tied for the NCHC scoring lead with 45 points, third among freshmen nationally, including 16 goals in 40 games. The Boston Bruins prospect also chipped in 26 points in conference play, tops along all freshmen. Caggiula (Whitby, Ont.), also a Second-Team All-NCHC honoree in 2014-15, compiled 36 points in 42 games on 18 goals and assists each. In conference play, he tied for the NCHC lead with 13 goals and totaled 22 points.
On the blue line, Welinski (Duluth, Minn.) was another Second-Team All-NCHC member from last season, tallying 21 points in 40 games with 51 blocked shots. The Anaheim Ducks prospect recorded 12 points, including seven goals, and blocked 25 shots in conference play as a junior. Caito (Coto de Caza, Calif.) was an NCHC Honorable Mention pick last year when he compiled 24 points in 39 games and posted a plus-19 rating, tops among NCHC defensemen a season ago. In conference play, he tallied 16 points, including three goals, blocked 45 shots and accrued a plus-10 rating as a junior.
Rounding out the NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team is Kaskisuo (Vantaa, Finland), who earned NCHC All-Rookie Team honors in goal last season after posting an 18-14-3 record while making 36 starts, recording a 2.30 goals-against average and posting a .917 save percentage. He was one of just two NCHC netminders last year to start all 24 conference games as he went 12-9-3 with a 2.27 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
Last season, four of the six student-athletes chosen for the NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team were also named to the 2014-15 NCHC All-Conference First Team at the end of the season.
2015 NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team
F – Trevor Moore, Denver, Jr. – 21 votes
F – Danton Heinen, Denver, So. – 20 votes
F – Drake Caggiula, North Dakota, Sr. – 17 votes
D – Andy Welinski, Minnesota Duluth, Sr. – 22 votes
D – Matthew Caito, Miami, Sr. – 10 votes
G – Kasimir Kaskisuo, Minnesota Duluth, So. – 14 votes
Tony Cameranesi, UMD
Louie Belpedio, Miami
Most difficult choices I had were Cameranesi over Austin Ortega and Drake Caggiula at forward, and Belpedio over Caito, Paul LaDue, and Carson Soucy on defense.
For UMD's sake, I hope the voters are as sharp with these picks as they were last year. If Kaskisuo especially is good enough to be all-conference in March, UMD will be in great position going into the postseason.