The preseason poll results are in and the Lake Superior State University men's ice hockey team has been selected to finish sixth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings in both the WCHA Media and Coaches Polls for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
Both polls were released this Monday (Sept. 25) afternoon by the league office in conjunction with the WCHA Media Teleconference.
Lake Superior State was chosen sixth in the WCHA's Mankato Free Press Preseason Coaches Poll with 51 points and received a sixth-place 62 points total in the WCHA UAHHockey.com Preseason Media Poll. The WCHA's 10 head coaches weren't allowed to vote for their own teams, but could vote for their own players for preseason award recognition. The teams were awarded points on an 10 for first place, nine for second place, etc. basis.
"We're really excited about this upcoming season," said LSSU head coach Damon Whitten, who will begin his fourth year in the 2017-18 season directing the Lakers' program. "We have the majority of last season's team back and believe we have enough key pieces for an opportunity to have a great season.
"We have a strong leadership base in house this season that we haven't had in a couple of years. I believe we will take a big step forward because of leadership and experience," added Whitten.
Minnesota State was tabbed as the 2017-18 preseason favorite to win the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA Regular-Season Champion in both the coaches and media polls. In the coaches poll, the Mavericks earned 90 points and nine first-place votes with 2016-17 WCHA Regular-Season Champion Bemidji (Minn.) State picking up the other first-place vote to go with 81 points. The media had Minnesota State ranked first with 137 points and 12 first-place votes followed by Bemdiji State with 115 points. The remaining two first-place votes were divided between third-place Michigan Tech (110 points) and fourth-place Bowling Green State (108 points).
The 2017-18 preseason All-WCHA Teams were also announced by the coaches and media. Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley being chosen as the league's preseason WCHA Player of the Year by the media and shared the honor with teammate Marc Michaelis in the coaches poll. Jake Jaremko of Minnesota State was selected as the WCHA's Preseason Rookie of the Year by the league coaches.
This season, Lake Superior State welcomes back 19 letterwinners from the 2016-17 squad as 65.9% (190-288) of the team's points production returns along with 72.8% (75-103) of its goal-scoring output from last season's campaign. Senior forward J.T. Henke and sophomore forward Max Humitz along with sophomore defenseman Collin Saccoman were LSSU skaters who received votes in the league's preseason media poll. Henke, who also picked up votes in the preseason coaches poll, is the Lakers' top returning points leader with a career single-season best 30 points on 10 goals and 20 assists in 36 games last season. Henke concluded the 2016-17 season tied for seventh place among the WCHA's top points producers. A 2016-17 WCHA All-Rookie Team pick, Humitz netted a squad second-most 13 goals with seven assists for 20 points in 35 outings and finished in a ninth-place tie on the league's goal-scoring leaders list. Saccoman, a 2016-17 American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-American Scholar, paced all LSSU blueliners in points a season ago with 18 via three goals and 15 assists in 36 contests.
"I believe this season will be a highly-competitive one in the WCHA," said Whitten. "We want to make sure we're in the mix for home ice in the playoffs going into the final weekend of the regular season and we certainly believe it's an attainable goal for our program."
The second annual on-campus WCHA Playoff's "Battle for the Broadmoor" Tournament will be held March 2-4 with quarterfinal-round action proceeded by semifinal-round play on March 9-11. The single-game 2018 WCHA Championship is scheduled for March 17.
A season ago, Lake Superior State was selected to finish seventh place in both the WCHA Coaches and Media Polls. LSSU, which would register an 11-18-7 record overall and a sevetn-place 8-13-7-4 WCHA mark for the 2016-17 campaign, garnered 44 points in the coaches preseason poll and accumulated 106 points in the media's preseason forecast.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2017-18 season are presently on sale and can be purchased online at lssulakers.com or by calling the LSSU Norris Center Ticket Office at (906) 635-2602 for additional information.
|1. Minnesota State (9)||90|
|2. Bemidji State (1)||81|
|3. Michigan Tech||70|
|4. Bowling Green State||67|
|5. Ferris State||59|
|6. Lake Superior State||51|
|7. Northern Michigan||40|
|10. Alaska Anchorage||18|
|1. Minnesota State (12)||137|
|2. Bemidji State||115|
|3. Michigan Tech (1)||110|
|4. Bowling Green State (1)||108|
|5. Ferris State||81|
|6. Lake Superior State||62|
|7. Northern Michigan||59|
|10. Alaska Anchorage||19|