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Second-ranked team in nation picked to win WCHA in preseason coaches poll

Defending regular-season champion Minnesota picked to finish ahead of defending national champion Ohio State. Not surprisingly, Taylor Heise is the Preseason Player of the Year in the poll of conference coaches

SCSU vs Minnesota
Minnesota Gophers star forward Taylor Heise carried the puck while St. Cloud State Huskies defender Kenzie Wylie gave chase during a game at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis from the 2021-22 season.
Bjorn Franke / University of Minnesota Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The University of Minnesota women's hockey team is second in the preseason national polls to defending national champion Ohio State, but is picked to win the WCHA regular season title in a preseason poll of the conference's coaches.

Former Bemidji State director of athletics and St. Cloud State administrator and coach discusses how he fell in love with the sport, his career in athletics, getting more women's games on TV and more on The Rink Live podcast with Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.

The Gophers received 44 points and three first-place votes from the team's eight head coaches in a poll released Tuesday, Sept. 13. The Buckeyes received 43 points and three first-place votes. Wisconsin picked up 42 points and the other two first-place votes.

The WCHA coaches also voted for a Preseason Player of the Year, Preseason Rookie of the Year and a preseason all-conference team.

There should be no surprise that Taylor Heise was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Heise, a fifth-year senior from Lake City, Minn., won the 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award and was named Most Valuable Player at the recent IIHF Women's World Championships. Heise received seven votes for the WCHA honor with graduate student forward Emma Maltais of Ohio State receiving the other vote from the coaches. Heise led NCAA Division I in points (66) and was second in goals (29) in 39 games last season.

Wisconsin defenseman Caroline Harvey, a 19-year-old from Salem, New Hampshire, was named WCHA Rookie of the Year. She received six of the eight votes with Badgers teammate Kirsten Simms, a forward, receiving the other two votes. Harvey played for Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics and then had eight points in seven games for the Americans in the recent World Championships.

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Former MSU-Mankato All-American Terry Hughes is on the board for Sophie's Squad, a nonprofit organization that is working toward raising awareness of mental health issues and removing the stigma associated with seeking help. The duo talks about the 5K run/walk and golf event that will be held Saturday with The Rink Live's Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.

The Preseason All-WCHA Team includes five players preparing for their fifth college seasons. Heise, Minnesota Duluth's Gabbie Hughes and Maltais are the forwards with Ohio State's Sophie Jaques and UMD's Ashton Bell on defense. The lone non-fifth-year player on the team is Ohio State junior goalie Amanda Thiele.

Other players receiving votes for the preseason team include forwards Jesse Compher (Sr., Wisconsin), Britta Curl (Sr., Wisconsin), Lacey Eden (So., Wisconsin) and Grace Zumwinkle (fifth-year, Minnesota); defensemen Harvey, Nicole LaMantia (graduate, Wisconsin), Anna Wilgren (Sr., MSU-Mankato); and goalie Emma Soderberg (graduate, UMD).

No. 2-ranked Ohio State takes on Wisconsin in conference semifinals. The sixth-year head coach also discusses her career, what intrigued her about coaching and how she helped turn the Buckeyes program around.

WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Minnesota (3 first-place votes), 44 points
2. Ohio State (3), 43
3. Wisconsin (2), 42
4. Minnesota Duluth, 31
5. MSU-Mankato, 25
6. Bemidji State, 16
7. St. Cloud State, 15
8. St. Thomas, 8

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com
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