Bowling Green Named 2016-17 Preseason Favorite by League Coaches and Media
Falcons, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Ferris State sit atop both polls; Ferris State's Gerald Mayhew named Preseason Player of Year, while Minnesota State's Parker Tuomie and FSU's Cameron Clarke split Rookie of the Year

EDINA, Minn. Sept. 20, 2016 If the league's coaches and media are correct, Bowling Green will end the 2016-17 regular season by hoisting its first MacNaughton Cup as champion of the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The Falcons were tabbed as the league favorite in both the Mankato Free Press WCHA Coaches' and the Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Media preseason polls.

The four schools that made the WCHA one of just two Division I conferences (along with Hockey East) to have at least four, 20-win teams in 2015-16 sit atop both polls in identical order: Bowling Green, followed by reigning MacNaughton Cup co-champions Michigan Tech and Minnesota State, and defending Broadmoor Trophy winner Ferris State. The four programs picked to hold home ice as the league's new, on-campus postseason tournament begins next March are all among the top-15 nationally for wins since opening night of the 2013-14 season, with the Mavericks (76 victories) ranking fourth, the Bulldogs (67) tied for 10th, the Huskies (66) in 12th and the Falcons (63) placing 15th.

Demonstrating the competitiveness that is a WCHA hallmark, all four programs received first-place votes in the media poll, while Bowling Green (8) and Michigan Tech (2) earned the coaches' nods.

Spots five through seven were also the same in both polls, with Northern Michigan, Bemidji State and Lake Superior State, respectively, expected to be vying for playoff positioning. Last season, the Wildcats posted their highest conference win total and finish (12 victories and fifth place) since the 2009-10 season, the Beavers won their most games (17) since 2011-12, and the Lakers enjoyed a six-win improvement behind one of the nation's top-scoring freshmen classes.

WCHA coaches picked Alaska Anchorage to grab the league's eighth and final playoff spot, ahead of Alabama Huntsville and Alaska. The media poll has the Nanooks finishing eighth and the Seawolves 10th, with the Chargers again ninth.

Ferris State senior forward Gerald Mayhew was the coaches' and media's choice as preseason Player of the Year. The Wyandotte, Mich. native ranked third in the league scoring race with 25 points (9g-16a) in WCHA play last year, while his 41 points overall (16g-25a) paced the conference. He ended his campaign by recording a point in five of six postseason contests (10 total), helping the Bulldogs to the NCAA West Regional final with five goals (including two game-winners) and five assists.

Minnesota State forward Parker Tuomie (coaches' choice) and Ferris State defensemen Cameron Clarke (media pick) split the preseason Rookie of the Year votes. Tuomie, a native of Germany, finished 11th in the United States Hockey League (USHL) scoring race last season, scoring 54 points (30g-24a) for the Sioux Falls Stampede. Clarke was selected by the Boston Bruins in the fifth round (136th pick overall) of the 2016 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft. He was named the 2015-16 North American Hockey League (NAHL) Defenseman of the Year following a standout season in which he tallied 50 points (9g-41a) in 59 games for the Lone Star Brahmas.

The historic league launches its 65th campaign with several initiatives to enhance the overall student-athlete and fan experience, including a new overtime, shootout and points structure. The 2016-17 WCHA season gets underway with games Oct. 1-2, as Ferris State hosts Alabama Huntsville in the first league series and Michigan Tech visits Minnesota Duluth for a nonconference set.

Following the regular season, the WCHA will debut its new, on-campus postseason tournament. Bringing the singular intensity and passion of playoff college hockey directly to its member institution fans, the "2017 WCHA Playoffs" will consist of four (4) best-of-three, quarterfinal round series hosted by the league's top four regular-season finishers the weekend of March 3-5, followed by two (2) best-of-three semifinal round series hosted by the highest remaining seeds the weekend of March 10-12. The "2017 WCHA Championship" will be a single game, hosted by the highest remaining seed, Saturday, March 18.


2016-17 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll
Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Bowling Green (8) 89
2. Michigan Tech (2) 79
3. Minnesota State 71
4. Ferris State 70
5. Northern Michigan 54
6. Bemidji State 48
7. Lake Superior State 44
8. Alaska Anchorage 29
9. Alabama Huntsville 23
10. Alaska 21
Predicted order of finish. Based on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.


Preseason WCHA Player of the Year

Gerald Mayhew, Sr. F, Ferris State (7 votes)

Others receiving votes: Mark Friedman, Jr. D, Bowling Green (1); Brandon Hawkins, Jr. F, Bowling Green (1); Chris Nell, Jr. F, Bowling Green (1)


Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year

Parker Tuomie, F, Minnesota State (4 votes)

Others receiving votes: Cam Clarke, D, Ferris State (2); Colton Leiter, F, Alaska (1); Marc Michaelis, F, Minnesota State (1); Collin Peters, F, Northern Michigan (1); Angus Redmond, G, Michigan Tech (1)


Preseason All-WCHA Team

Forwards
Gerald Mayhew, Sr., Ferris State; Dominik Shine, Sr., Northern Michigan; Brandon Hawkins, Jr., Bowling Green (tie); Corey Mackin, So., Ferris State (tie)

Defensemen
Mark Friedman, Jr., Bowling Green; Matt Roy, Jr., Michigan Tech

Goaltender
Chris Nell, Jr., Bowling Green

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically by position): Forwards-Gerry Fitzgerald, Jr., Bemidji State; C.J. Franklin, Jr., Minnesota State; Brendan Harms, Tyler Heinonen, Sr., Michigan Tech; Sr., BSU; Joel L'Esperance, Jr., Michigan Tech. Defensemen-Mark Auk, Jr., Michigan Tech; Daniel Brickley, So., Minnesota State; Shane Hanna, Sr., Michigan Tech; Sean Walker, Sr., Bowling Green. Goaltenders-Michael Bitzer, Jr., Bemidji State; Gordon Defiel, Jr., Lake Superior State; Cole Huggins, Sr., Minnesota State; Darren Smith, So., Ferris State.


2016-17 Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Media Poll
Team (1st Place Votes) Pts.
1. Bowling Green (15) 251
2. Michigan Tech (6) 239
3. Minnesota State (5) 236
4. Ferris State (2) 218
5. Northern Michigan 161
6. Bemidji State 144
7. Lake Superior State 106
8. Alaska 68
9. Alabama Huntsville 56
10. Alaska Anchorage 50
Predicted order of finish. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.


Preseason WCHA Player of the Year

Gerald Mayhew, Sr., F, Ferris State

Others receiving votes: Dominik Shine, Sr., F, Northern Michigan; Sean Walker, Sr., D, Bowling Green; Cameron Clarke, Fr., D, Ferris State; Mason Mitchell, So., F, Alaska Anchorage; Corey Mackin, So., F, Ferris State; Max McHugh, Jr., F, Alabama Huntsville; Chris Nell, Jr., G, Bowling Green; Cole Huggins, Sr., G, Minnesota State; Tyler Heinonen, Sr., F, Michigan Tech.


Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Clarke, D, Ferris State

Others receiving votes: Parker Tuomie, F, Minnesota State; Hampus Sjodahl, F, Bemidji State; Alec Rauhauser, D, Bowling Green; Frederic Letourneau, F, Bowling Green; Max Humitz, F, Lake Superior State; Brayden Gelsinger, F, Lake Superior State; Thomas Beretta, F, Michigan Tech; Mitch Reinke, D, Michigan Tech; Casey Linkenheld, F, Bowling Green; Adam Brady, F, Bemidji State; Connor James, D, Alabama Huntsville; Austin Beaulieu, F, Alabama Huntsville.


Preseason All-WCHA Team

Forwards
Gerald Mayhew, Sr., Ferris State; Dominik Shine, Sr., Northern Michigan; Tyler Heinonen, Sr., Michigan Tech

Defensemen
Mark Friedman, Jr., Bowling Green; Matt Roy, Jr., Michigan Tech

Goaltender
Chris Nell, Jr., Bowling Green


About Mankato Free Press WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll

The 2016-17 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll was conducted by Shane Frederick, staff writer, The Free Press Media. (www.mankatofreepress.com; www.mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com; Twitter/@puckato)


About Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Media Poll

The 2016-17 Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Media Poll was conducted by Jack Hittinger, staff writer. (www.bemidjipioneer.com; www.bemidjipioneer.com/users/jhitt; Twitter/@jackhitts)


About Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, among the most historic, tradition-rich and successful conferences in all of collegiate athletics, will proudly mark its 65th season of men's competition in 2016-17. The 10-team Division 1 conference consists of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Chargers), the University of Alaska Anchorage (Seawolves), the University of Alaska (Nanooks), Bemidji State University (Beavers), Bowling Green State University (Falcons), Ferris State University (Bulldogs), Lake Superior State University (Lakers), Michigan Technological University (Huskies), Minnesota State University (Mavericks) and Northern Michigan University (Wildcats). For more information, visit wcha.com.