Defending Champion Adrian Tops NCHA Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Adrian College has once again been picked by league coaches to place first in the upcoming Northern Collegiate Hockey Association regular season, according to the results of the coaches’ preseason poll announced today by the league office.
The Bulldogs, coming off an appearance in the 2017 NCAA National Championship game and a 28-3-0 record (18-0 NCHA), will look to continue to build on the repeat regular-season and Slaats Cup championships they claimed a year ago. Head coach Chad Davis, the NCHA Coach of the Year for the third season in a row, will face a challenge in front of him by having to replace five graduated seniors who were NCHA All-Conference honorees, including NCHA Player of the Year Kristin Lewicki.
The Bulldogs do return all-league honoree Kelly O’Sullivan (11-26-37) – who was named NCHA Freshman of the Year – as well as Brooke Lupi (21-22-43, fourth in NCHA scoring). Adrian finished with 78 poll points and six first-place votes.
Right behind was Lake Forest College, which accumulated 76 points and four first-place votes. The Foresters went 21-6-1 a season ago, just behind Adrian in the league standings while finishing as the No. 9 team in the final national poll. Amy Budde (18-19-37), an All-NCHA selection last year, is joined by Olivia Spellmire (15-19-34) and Kayla Griffith (11-15-26) as experienced veterans to lean on. On defense, the young and talented freshmen duo from last season, Jacque Rogers (1.61 GAA) and Julia Unterseher (7-8-15), lead the pack.
St. Scholastica went 14-11-2 last season and finished third in the poll. A freshman last season, Lexi Thomeczek came through with a 9-3-0 record and a 1.72 GAA, as well as a .941 save percentage that led the league.
A group of three came in closely-packed next, with Concordia Wisconsin fourth (51 points, 10-13-2 last year), Marian University fifth (48 points, 10-16-1) and St. Norbert College sixth (46 points, 6-18-1). The Falcons and Sabres both had strong play by sophomore goalies last season, with CUW’s Christina Pattengale (2.50 GAA/.911 save percentage) a member of the all-league team and MU’s Lindsey Strainis (2.89 GAA/.913 save percentage) a four-time NCHA Defensive Player of the Week over the course of the season.
Two first-year programs were ranked by the coaches in their inaugeral preseason polls. Aurora University - from Aurora, Illinois - was picked seventh while Trine University - from Angola, Indiana - was ranked tenth.
Northland College, which is playing its first full season of NCHA hockey, was picked to finish eighth; Finlandia University was voted ninth.
WOMEN’S NCHA COACHES POLL
1. Adrian 78 points (6 first-place votes)
2. Lake Forest 76 (4 first-place votes)
3. St. Scholastica 65
4. Concordia Wisconsin 51
5. Marian 48
6. St. Norbert 46
7. Aurora 30
8. Northland 22
9. Finlandia 21
10. Trine 13