The WCHA held it's annual pre-season fall meetings last week in Minneapolis. Head Coaches voted Duluth to repeat and win the WCHA for '08-'09. Here's a breakdown of how the voting went, coaches could not vote for their own teams.
2008 - 2009 WCHA pre-season rankings poll - 1st place votes in parentheses
1. Minnesota Duluth (5) - 47 points
2. Minnesota (2) - 41 points
t-2. Wisconsin (2) - 41 points
4. Ohio State University - 29 points
5. St. Cloud State University - 27 points
6. MSU - Mankato - 18 points
7. North Dakota - 14 points
8. Bemidji State University - 7 points
It's clear most of the head coaches don't expect UND to do much this year. In fact, head coaches haven't differed from their 7th place ranking from a year ago. The low expectation suits coach Idalski and his team just fine I am sure.
Teams across the WCHA underestimated UND last season but had reason to do so with a 0-27-1 WCHA record in '06-'07. UND was shutout 14 times, lost 21 games by 3 goals or more and had 8 one-goal games. In '07-'08 UND had 4 WCHA win's along with 4 ties to earn 12 WCHA points. UND was shut out only 4 times. All of this accomplished with a younger and more inexperienced lineup. Idalski was basically "given" his first recruiting class in '07-'08 with the exception of Stephanie Roy who committed to UND in the late spring under Idaksi's watch. UND had 21 games decided by 2 goal or less and 17 of those decided by 1-goal or less. 9 of those games were wins or ties. Looks like there was a little bit of coaching going on over there at the Ralph last year eh?
UND didn't graduate a single senior last season and has 10 new players (5 F's, 3 D's and 2 G's) who all will be expected to contribute. Now, here's where things get interesting. There are some big name teams that graduated a lot of offense & goal tending from last season. Here's how it looks in terms of the number of total points (goals+assists), goals scored and notable goalie statistics WCHA teams graduated.
1. Ohio State - 152 points / 61 goals (5th place reg. season WCHA)
2. Minnesota - 140 points / 62 goals (2nd place reg. season WCHA)
3. MSU-Mankato - 71 Points / 30 goals (6th place reg. season WCHA)
4. Wisconsin - 58 points / 26 goals (3rd place reg. season WCHA)
5. St. Cloud - 42 points / 11 goals (4th place reg. season WCHA)
6. Duluth - 21 points / 16 goals (1st place reg. season WCHA)
7. Bemidji - 20 points / 7 goals (8th place reg. season WCHA)
8. UND - 0 points / 0 goals (7th place reg. season WCHA)
1. St. Cloud - 28 games played, 2.57 GAA, .911 SV %
2. MSU-Mankato - 33 games played, 2.72 GAA, .904 SV %
3. Bemidji - 34 games played, 2.99 GAA, .917 SV %
Granted all teams are bringing in excellent recruiting classes. You can't help but think when you graduate 50% or more of your offense and play in a league where goal scoring is at a premium, that teams are going through a bit of an adjustment. Just how big we'll have to wait and see.
USA Today / USA Hockey Women's Top 10 Poll
The first pre-season USA Today / USA Hockey Women's poll came out earlier this week with Minnesota-Duluth, Wisconsin and Minnesota all holding the top 3 spots respectively in that order. Looks like the other coaches and sports writers across the nation feel the same as they do in the WCHA as Duluth had 19 first-place votes. Ohio State was in the 'also receiving votes' category with 2.
Academic Spotlight - UND's Nationally Ranked Entrepreneurship Program
When you hear the term 'national rankings' in conjunction with UND, thoughts of the Men's Hockey team, Football or Women's Basketball come to mind right? The feeling you get as a fan who's team just made it to yet another 'Frozen Four' makes you feel pretty darn good doesn't it? Makes you want to brag a bit to your buddy that's a fan of that "other school" down in the Twin-Cities at work?
Outside the upper mid-west, people know of UND primarily because of its sports programs. Just ask the folks out east who live near Boston College. Yet little fan-fare or recognition is given to a particular institutions' academic programs' with in the sports community. It's not real sexy stuff for sports writers to promote I guess. Many who know UND as a sports powerhouse have no clue as to how great a school - academically - UND really is. So how great is it?
Well for starters, UND can lay claim to the 13th nationally ranked Business/Entrepreneurship school in the country. That is #13 out of 2,300 schools that were evaluated in a recent survey conducted by Entrepreneurship Magazine. (Just as a heads up, that other school in the 'Twin-Cities' received an honorable mention as did Harvard University... i.e. they didn't make the final cut. And BC didn't even make the list). A little research tells us Entrepreneurship is a growing field of study and very popular with the fortune 500 crowd when looking at resumes from recent graduates. It seems the traditional business school teaching/program model isn't cutting it anymore. UND's program is a hands on, practice-what-you-preach environment. Not only do students crack the books, but they interact and rub shoulders with local and national business leaders. Relationships with resources such as local and national entities like the Center for Innovation, the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and the Dakota Venture Group to make the experience for a student majoring in entrepreneurship invaluable.
So the next time you hear the term 'national rankings' in the same sentence as UND, you just might wonder where the Business/Entrepreneurship program is ranked at.