Poll Survivor: WCHA media and coaches poll, plus my ballot

With apologies to the Rolling Stones: The Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Preseason Media Poll is complete. I have survived.

Find the complete media poll here. Shane Frederick’s Mankato Free Press Coaches Poll can be found here.

As expected, Minnesota State was nearly unanimous in both polls.

In the media poll, the Mavericks garnered 22 of 25 first-place votes. Ferris State, a solid second, got two first place votes.

Now, this is where it gets weird.

Bemidji State received a first-place vote and finished eighth in the media poll.

Huh?

Yeah, that’s right. The Beavers got a first-place vote.

I’ve been asked a million times who voted for Bemidji State in the poll. I’m not in the business of telling people who voted for whom. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, if they want to explain their reasoning they’re free to do so, but I won’t force them to.

All I can tell you is: I didn’t vote for the Beavers to finish first. Neither did any other members of the Bemidji media.

I did have BSU higher than most: I picked the Beavers to take fifth. A little generous? Possibly. But the newly-realigned WCHA is wide open. And I think the Beavers have the potential to be a lot better than they showed last season — especially if Andrew Walsh stays hot all season and the younger front line can score with consistency.

But first place? That’s asking a heck of a lot.

Here’s my full ballot, for good measure:

1. Minnesota State

2. Ferris State

3. Alaska

4. Northern Michigan

5. Bemidji State

6. Bowling Green

7. Lake Superior State

8. Michigan Tech

9. Alabama Huntsville

10. Alaska Anchorage

In hindsight, I think I picked Tech too low. Also, Huntsville and Anchorage in the bottom two spots seems like a given — although I may have flip-flopped the two, I don’t think it matters much because I doubt either will be competing for a playoff spot this year.

I did vote for some BSU players for the All-WCHA teams. Here’s my choices for the All-League, and Player and Rookie of the year votes.

Forwards: Matt Leitner, MSU; Alex Petan, Tech; Ryan Carpenter, BGSU

Defensemen: Matt Prapavessis, BSU; Travis Binkley, Ferris

Goaltender: Andrew Walsh, BSU

Player of the Year: Leitner

Rookie of the Year: Brendan Harms, BSU

I truly think Walsh is up there with any goaltender in college hockey when he’s on. Prapavessis is also a rock-solid defenseman who, I think, deserves more credit.

As for my rookie vote: That award is a crapshoot. Harms is one guy I’d been hearing a lot about from people outside Bemidji. So I picked him. In reality: Who the heck knows with the rookie votes?

I think the main thing to glean from both the media and the coaches polls this year is that, aside from Minnesota State being really good, nobody knows anything.

Which makes this league even more fun than it had been in years past.

During the WCHA coaches teleconference on Wednesday, that was cleat. Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron said he wasn’t very familiar with any of the teams in the new league so it was hard for him to vote. Most of them had similar comments.

I’ll have a few more things on the upcoming hockey season this week. First, look for a piece on the BSU women’s hockey team in Thursday’s paper. They open their season this weekend (yeah, I know, it seems early) at Lindenwood in Missouri.

Can the skid end this weekend?

Bemidji State hosts Minnesota-Duluth Friday and Saturday in what is surely the least-anticipated WCHA series since… well, since BSU took on Alaska-Anchorage over Thanksgiving break.

Bemidji State vs. Wisconson

Bemidji State defensemen Jake Areshenko, right, and Brady Wacker, center, put pressure on Wisconsin’s Tyler Barnes during Friday night’s 2-2 tie at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Hat-tip to UW’s student paper, the Badger Herald, for sending us some shots. This one from staff photographer Jen Small.

Look, both teams are struggling right now: The Beavers, as has been repeated countless times, are winless in 2013 and 0-9-3 since the Denver series back in December.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are 1-5-0  in their last six following sweeps at the hands of Denver and Minnesota State-Mankato.

I would say “Someone has to win!” but then I remembered we’re talking about hockey here so the exact opposite is true – we could very well see a pair of 1-1 ties this weekend. Both teams are in the bottom half nationally in both scoring offense (BSU 56th overall, 2.04 goals a game; UMD t-39th, 2.50 GPG) AND scoring defense (BSU 46th, 3.07 GPG; UMD t-42nd, 3.00 GPG).

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BSU vs. UAA series postgame: The hockey gods hate me

I’m pretty sure it’s official: The hockey gods do not like me very much.

For the fourth straight game at the Sanford Center, Bemidji State’s fate was not decided until the final minutes of play. The Beavers went to overtime Friday night and settled for a 2-2 tie with Alaska Anchorage. This after losing both games of last weekend’s series against Michigan Tech in overtime.

Saturday night was slightly different. This time the Beavers (thankfully for the Pioneer’s deadline) did not go to overtime. But it wasn’t until the final buzzer that BSU could breathe a sigh of relief.

Sam Rendle scored the game-winner with just 2:29 left in regulation and the Beavers held on to beat the Seawolves – their first win in the month of November.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a game at the Sanford Center without a major delay. Our deadlines at the Pioneer on Saturdays are a ridiculously early 10:30 p.m. Last Saturday, BSU forced overtime then lose the game with just 30 seconds to go. I wasn’t able to do interviews.

In this game, there was no overtime, but a 20-minute delay after a Zamboni malfunction in the first intermission sunk any chances I had of going down to the media room after this one.

Luckily for you, the BSU media people have kindly recorded the Beaver press conference and put it online. You can see it for yourself at the top of the page. The story in Sunday’s paper went to press without quotes, but I’ve added a few to the story online, which you can find here.

The point of all this wasn’t to complain (well, not the MAIN point), but to say I have a few thoughts about this series that I couldn’t fit in my stories this weekend. Here goes:

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