UAF hockey top five in WCHA preseason polls

FAIRBANKS-The Nooks had their first practices this week at the Patty Center before they take the ice for the Blue and Gold game this Saturday at the Patty. They'll also have an exhibition with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Oct 5 in the Carlson.

It's a young but experience roster. Sophomores John Keeney, who had a great season at goalie is back, as is Tyler Morley, the fourth leading scorer from a year ago and key defenseman Colton Parayko.

The team brings back senior leadership in Cody Kunyk, Colton Beck and Micheal Quinn for their last hoorah.

Some of the newcomers aren't new to Fairbanks as Jared Linnell, from North Pole and Justin Woods, a Fairbanksan, are former Ice Dogs

There are 8 freshmen, 9 sophomores, 7 juniors, and 3 seniors on team that enter its first season in the new WCHA under six year head coach Dallas Ferguson.

Now here are some WCHA preseason polls. Today the Nanooks were picked fifth in the Mankato Free Press WCHA Coaches Poll. Minnesota State was picked first followed by Ferris State and Michigan Tech. Tech was just one point ahead of fourth preseason pick Bowling Green. UAA was still picked ninth in the coaches poll.

For preseason All-WCHA teams senior center Cody Kunyk and sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko were selected.

Minnesota State's Matt Leitner was named preseason player of the year, freshman Zach Stepan was preseason rookie of the year and Fairbanks's own Stephon Williams was named preseason goaltender of the year.

Yesterday Media members in the Bemidiji Pioneer WCHA Preseason Media Poll picked Alaska to finish third in the conference. Ferris State was picked second and received two first place votes. Minnesota State is the favorite to win the WCHA with 22 first place votes. UAA was predicted to finish ninth.
 
The WCHA schedule starts Nov. 1 at home when UAF takes on Northern Michigan.

For full preseason polls are below

Mankato Free Press WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll
(Based on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale; coaches could not vote for their own team)
1. Minnesota State (9) – 81
2. Ferris State – 65
3. Michigan Tech (1) – 64
4. Bowling Green – 58
5. ALASKA – 54
6. Northern Michigan – 40
7. Bemidji State – 35
8. Lake Superior State – 25
9. Alaska Anchorage – 18
10. Alabama Huntsville - 10
 

Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Preseason Media Poll
1. Minnesota State (22) – 244
2. Ferris State (2) – 218
3. Alaska – 168
4. Bowling Green – 149
5. Michigan Tech – 144
6. Northern Michigan – 137
7. Lake Superior State – 117
8. Bemidji State – 108
9. Alaska Anchorage – 54
10. Alabama-Huntsville - 36
 
The following media members took part in the Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Preseason Media Poll: 
 
Justin Bradford, ESPN Radio Nashville; Bruce Cech, KCBF 820/UAF play-by-play; Dave Danis, Northern Michigan play-by-play; Erik Drygas, KCBF 820 AM/UAF color analyst; Drew Evans, BGSUHockey.com; Casey Ford, ESPN Radio UP; Shane Frederick, Mankato Free Press; Kevin Gordon, Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune; Kurt Haider, KENI News/KTZN Sports/UAA hockey play-by-play; Dirk Hembroff, 93.5 FM/MTU play-by-play; Dominic Hennig, 97.3 FM/FSU Play-by-Play; Jack Hittinger, Bemidji Pioneer; Dan Kowalski, 97.3 FM/FSU Color Commentator; Budd McLaughlin, AL.com hockey writer; Geof Morris, UAHHockey.com; Kevin Meyers, Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization; Tim O'Donnell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner; Rob Roos, Sault Evening News; Martin Slagter, Big Rapids Pioneer; Jerry Taylor, ABC10 UP; John Wagner, Toledo Blade; Matt Wellens, Marquette Daily Mining Journal; Kevin Wells, KTUU-Channel 2; Scott Williams, Lakeland Public Television/KBUN Sportsradio, Brandon Veale/Michael Bleach, Daily Mining Gazette.