BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (NMU/WBUP) — The Wildcat hockey program has been picked to finish fourth in the 2020-21 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Media Poll. With 68 points, the Northern Michigan University program sits behind only league foes Minnesota State (100 pts.), Bemidji State (89 pts.) and Bowling Green (76 pts.). Upper Peninsula rival, Michigan Tech rounds out the top-five picks with 67 points.
The Wildcats finished the 2019-20 campaign with an 18-16-4 record and finished third in the league at the end of the regular season.
Junior forward Griffin Loughran has been named to the Preseason Media All-WCHA Team, receiving all 10 possible votes. The league leading scorer in 2019-20, returns to the Wildcat lineup this season hoping to build on his sophomore success.
Including Loughran, the Wildcats return 10 forwards and five defensemen along with three goaltenders who saw action in the crease last season. They are joined by a strong freshman class and two additional transfers, eligible to play this coming year in forward David Keefer and goaltender Connor Ryckman.
The team returns 219 points from last season, including three of its top-four scorers in Loughran, Vincent de Mey and Joseph Nardi. NMU also holds a strong veteran core on the blue line, returning senior Ben Newhouse who led the league in blocked shots as well as sophomores Hank Sorensen, Michael Van Unen, Mason Palmer and Tanner Vescio.
The Wildcats open their season at home on Wednesday, November 25 against Lake Superior State University.
2020-21 WCHA Preseason Media Poll
Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Minnesota State (10) 100
2. Bemidji State 89
3. Bowling Green 76
4. Northern Michigan 68
5. Michigan Tech 67
6. Lake Superior State 44
8. Ferris State
9. Alaska Anchorage 21
10. Alabama Huntsville 12
Predicted order of finish. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.
WCHA Preseason Media Player of the Year (Votes)
Dryden McKay, Jr., G, Minnesota State (25)
Others Receiving Votes: Griffin Loughran, Jr., F, Northern Michigan (21); Owen Sillinger, Jr., F, Bemidji State (5); Zach Driscoll, Sr., G, Bemidji State (2); Brandon Kruse, Sr., F, Bowling Green (2); Nathan Smith, So., F, Minnesota State (2); Connor Ford, Sr., F, Bowling Green (1); Colin Swoyer, Jr., D, Michigan Tech (1).
Based on a 3-2-1 scale.
WCHA Preseason Media Rookie of the Year (Votes)
Carson Bantle, F, Michigan Tech (16)
Others Receiving Votes: Akito Hirose, D, Minnesota State (14); Tanner Edwards, F, Minnesota State (3); Connor Gregga, F, Minnesota State (3); Anton Malmstrom, D, Bowling Green (3); Lukas Sillinger, F, Bemidji State (3); Aaron Myers, F, Bemidj State (3); Ondrej Pavel, F, Minnesota State (3); Grant Johnson, F, Northern Michigan (3); Jed Pietila, D, Michigan Tech (2); Jake Livingstone, D, Minnesota State (2); Jett Jungels, F, Northern Michigan (2); Logan Stein, G, Ferris State (1); Joshua Wildauer, F, Lake Superior State (1); Mack Byers, F, Northern Michigan (1).
Based on a 3-2-1 scale.
Preseason Media All-WCHA Team (Votes)
Forwards: Griffin Loughran, Jr. Northern Michigan (10); Connor Ford, Sr., Bowling Green (7); Owen Sillinger, Jr., Bemidji State (5).
Others Receiving Votes: Brandon Kruse, Sr., Bowling Green (3) Lucas Sowder, So., Minnesota State (2); Nathan Smith, So., Minnesota State (1); Jared Spooner, Sr., Minnesota State (1); Trenton Bliss, Jr., Michigan Tech (1).
Defensemen: Elias Rosén, So., Bemidji State (9); Jake Willets, So., Ferris State (6).
Others Receiving Votes: Chris Jandric, Jr., Alaska (2); Colin Swoyer, Jr., Michigan Tech (1); Tim Theochardis, Jr., Bowling Green (1); Jack McNeely, Sr., Minnesota State (1).
Goaltender: Dryden McKay, Jr., Minnesota State (10).
Others Receiving Votes: None
2020-21 WCHA Media Poll Voters
The voting board for the 2020-21 WCHA Media Poll consisted of one media representative from each Men’s League market.
Alabama Huntsville: Justin Bradford, Penalty Box Radio
Alaska Anchorage: Kurt Haider, Seawolf Radio
Alaska: Bruce Cech, Nanook Radio
Bemidji State: Austin Monteith, Bemidji Pioneer
Bowling Green: Nick Piotrowicz, Toledo Blade
Ferris State: John Raffel, Big Rapids Pioneer
Lake Superior State: Bill Crawford, LSSU Radio
Michigan Tech: Adam Niemi, Houghton Daily Mining Gazette
Minnesota State: Kevin Dudley, Mankato Free Press
Northern Michigan: Ryan Stieg, Marquette Mining Journal