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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team is a unanimous choice to finish second in the its initial campaign in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) as the Bulldogs were picked as the runner-up in the 2013-14 Mankato Free Press WCHA Preseason Coaches Poll unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 25) as part of the league's media teleconference with all head coaches.
The runner-up performance in the preseason coaches poll comes on the heels of being the number two choice in a vote of the media released Tuesday as part of the 2013-14 WCHA Preseason Media Poll, which was conducted and ran thru the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer.
In the coaches' voting, Minnesota State was tabbed as the favorite to win the MacNaughton Cup, garnering nine of 10 first-place votes in the Mankato Free Press WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll. The Mavericks, who are coming off their best season in a decade, also have the Preseason Player of the Year in junior forward Matt Leitner and the Preseason Rookie of the Year in freshman forward Zach Stepan.
Ferris State was picked to finish second in the league, edging Michigan Tech, which received the other first-place vote. Bowling Green was fourth, followed by Alaska, Northern Michigan, Bemidji State, Lake Superior State, Alaska Anchorage and Alabama Huntsville.
Leitner and a pair of Minnesota State teammates, junior defenseman Zach Palmquist and sophomore goaltender Stephon Williams were selected to the Preseason All-WCHA team, along with Petan, Bowling Green junior forward Ryan Carpenter and Ferris State junior defenseman Jason Binkley.
Binkley was previously also named to the media's preseason All-WCHA team as a defenseman. Senior forward Garrett Thompson and senior defenseman Scott Czarnowczan also received votes from the coaches in the preseason voting.
The 2013-14 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll poll was conducted and ran by Shane Frederick, staff writer, The Free Press Media.
The Bulldogs will embark on the school's first-ever season in the WCHA in 2013-14 for the school's 36th year of NCAA Division I hockey. This year's slate features eight home weekends with four new schools scheduled to visit Big Rapids for the first time.
The Bulldogs wrapped up their final season of Central Collegiate Hockey Association competition last year and earned a first-round tournament bye for the fourth consecutive year, one of only two schools to accomplish the feat in the final four years of the league.
Last season's campaign came on the heels of a historic 2011-12 campaign in which Ferris State received its first-ever number one national ranking, won the CCHA regular-season championship, claimed the NCAA Midwest Regional crown and advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history.
Ferris State will officially open the 2013-14 season on the road at Colgate in a non-league series set for Oct. 5-6 in Hamilton, N.Y. The regular-season home opener is set for Friday, Oct. 18, as FSU entertains St. Lawrence in Big Rapids with the squad's first WCHA home series slated for Nov. 8-9 versus Bemidji State.
Single-game tickets for the 2013-14 campaign are currently on sale and can be purchased online at StarTickets.com. For more information, please call the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Seating is again expected to be at a premium for all FSU home contests this season. Last year, in 2012-13, the Bulldogs officially sold out five times and drew more than 2,000 fans for each of their last 10 regular-season home contests in the 2,400-seat facility. Overall, FSU has posted 11 total sellouts at the Ewigleben Ice Arena since the second half of a historic 2011-12 campaign in which the Bulldogs reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four.
2013-14 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men's Hockey Preseason Coaches Poll
Predicted order of finish (first-place votes in parenthesis). Based on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale; coaches could not vote for their own teams
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
Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
Matt Leitner, Jr., F, Minnesota State (5 votes); Alex Petan, So., F, Michigan Tech (2); Ryan Carpenter, Jr., F, Bowling Green (1); Cody Kunyk, Sr., F, Alaska (1); Blake Tatchell, So., F, Alaska Anchorage (1).
Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
Zach Stepan, F, Minnesota State (8); Brent Baltus, F, Michigan Tech (1); Shane Sooth, F, Northern Michigan (1).
Preseason All-WCHA Team
Forwards: Matt Leitner, Jr., Minnesota State; Ryan Carpenter, Jr., Bowling Green; Alex Petan, So., Michigan Tech. Defensemen: Zach Palmquist, Jr., Minnesota State; Jason Binkley, Jr., Ferris State. Goaltender: Stephon Williams, So., Minnesota State.
Others receiving votes: Forwards: Blake Tatchell, So., Alaska Anchorage; Matt Bailey, Sr., Alaska Anchorage; Cody Kunyk, Sr., Alaska; Garrett Thompson, Sr., Ferris State. Defensemen: Colton Parayko, So., Alaska; Matt Prapavessis, Jr., Bemidji State; Mike Sullivan, Jr., Bowling Green; Ralfs Freibergs, So., Bowling Green; Scott Czarnowczan, Sr., Ferris State; Kevin Czuczman, Jr., Lake Superior State; C.J. Ludwig, Sr., Northern Michigan. Goaltender: Kevin Kapalka, Sr., Lake Superior State.