All-WCHA Teams & Other Awards

Posted by: Nate Wells

Yesterday the WCHA unveiled their all-conference teams and individual honors, which are voted on by coaches, players, sports information directors and local media. I don’t have an actual vote when it comes to these things (there’s probably a good reason why), but that isn’t stopping me from naming my own all-WCHA teams and handing out other awards.

It’s always tough to decide on who to pick. This year was no exception; especially with forwards where 7 of the top 10 scorers in the nation are from the WCHA. There were enough deserving players where I could have made a fourth team yet still feel like someone was left off. The other positions are not as deep as forwards, however, there were still plenty of ¬†tough choices.

So without further adieu…

ALL WCHA FIRST TEAM
F- Ryan Walters, UNO
F- Danny Kristo, UND
F- Drew LeBlanc, SCSU
D- Nate Schmidt, Minnesota
D- Nick Jensen, SCSU
G- Juho Olkinuora, Denver

Rationale: Walters was the leading scorer in the WCHA with 50 points and Kristo scored 21 goals for UND. LeBlanc was the top player on a co-MacNaughton Cup winner. He would also easily be comeback player of the year if that was an award handed out by the league.

(This is my post so I’m making that an award. Congrats Drew.)
Both Schmidt, who led WCHA d-men in points and spent most of the season paired with freshman Brady Skjei, and Jensen were two best all-around at their position. Olkinuora, meanwhile, was impressive behind a defense that allowed a lot of shots.
ALL-WCHA SECOND TEAM
F- Erik Haula, Minnesota
F- Corban Knight, UND
F- Michael Mersch, Wisconsin
D- Joey LaLeggia, Denver
D- Mike Boivin, CC
G- Stephon Williams, Minnesota State
Rationale: Haula scored 45+ points for the second straight year, Knight was UND’s leader in all zones and is a Hobey Baker candidate. Mersch scored 22 goals (more than any player in the WCHA) on a Wisconsin team that struggled offensively to score. Boivin and LaLeggia were 1-2 in goals by a defenseman while Williams finished the season as Minnesota State’s MVP and top-3 in most goalie categories.
ALL-WCHA THIRD TEAM
F- Rylan Schwartz, CC
F- Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota
F- Josh Archibald, UNO
D- Andrej Sustr, UNO
D- Derek Forbort, UND
G- Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin
Rationale: Schwartz topped 40 points for the second straight year and Bjugstad led the Gophers with 20 goals and added a new dimension to his game. Josh Archibald gets overlooked on a team with both Ryan Walters and Andrej Sustr (if there was an all-underrated team Archibald makes the list) yet scored the most goals in WCHA play. Sustr and Forbort both took big steps in their development this season while Rumpel, who split time between the pipes with Landon Peterson, was fourth in GAA on a Wisconsin team that led in the WCHA in team defense.
ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
F- Johnny Brodzinski, SCSU
F- Alex Petan, Michigan Tech
F- Tony Cameranesi, UMD
D- Nolan Zajac, Denver
D- Andy Weliniski, UMD
G- Adam Wilcox, Minnesota
Rationale: Brodzinski was the leading freshman goal scorer and both Petan and Cameranesi flawlessly stepped into their team’s lineup (so did Austin Farley- the toughest cut to make – for that matter). Zajac and Weliniski were atop the leaderboard for blue liners and Wilcox answered Minnesota’s biggest question mark. He gets the spot here with Williams already on the list.
INDIVIDUAL AWARDS
Player Of The Year- Ryan Walters (HM: Drew LeBlanc, Danny Kristo, Nate Schmidt, Nick Jensen)
It was tough to decide on who my WCHA player of the year. I went back and forth on whether or not to give it to Walters despite Nebraska-Omaha’s collapse down the stretch over a team like St. Cloud State. In the end, his numbers and contributions to the Mavericks were too much to overcome.
Comeback Player of the Year- Drew LeBlanc (HM: Rocco Grimaldi, UND)
Defensive Co-Player Of The Year- Nick Jensen and Nate Schmidt
Is this taking the easy way out by naming the top all-around defensemen of the two teams who won the MacNaughton Cup co-players of the year? Yes it is.
Rookie Of The Year- Stephon Williams (HM: Brodzinski)
Williams was one of the top goaltenders in the WCHA and the lone freshman to make one of the top 3 teams.
Coach Of The Year- Mike Hastings (HM: Bob Motzko)
As much as I don’t like giving the coach of the year to the head coach of the “team which you wouldn’t expect to get home ice” over the MacNaughton Cup winner, Hastings did more with less.

Agree? Disagree? Really disagree? Leave it in the comments.

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