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WCHA coaches tab Minnesota as the league’s preseason favorite.

Gopher F Hannah Brandt expected to repeat as WCHA Player of the year.

Minnesota’s Hannah Brandt releases a shot as Minnesota State’s Danielle Scholzen leans in to defend in the Gophers’ 4-0 win over the Mavericks in the Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (MHM Photo / Jeff Wegge) 

Gopher F Hannah Brandt expected to repeat as WCHA Player of the year.

On the heels of Monday’s announcement that the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team had regained its position atop U.S. College Hockey Online’s national rankings, the WCHA on Tuesday released its 2014-15 WCHA Head Coaches’ Preseason Poll.

As expected, the two-time defending WCHA regular season champion Gophers are predicted to win a third straight regular season conference title playing in a league which has 14 Division I women’s national championships in its 15 years of existence to its credit.

Minnesota collected six first place votes and 48 points in the annual poll of the league’s eight head coaches. The Gophers edged fellow 2013-14 Frozen Four participant Wisconsin which received 44 points overall and the remaining two first place votes.

Additionally, Minnesota junior forward Hannah Brandt, the league’s reigning WCHA Player of the Year, was the unanimous preseason selection by the coaches to retain her crown in 2014-15. Wisconsin freshman forward Annie Pankowski is the head coaches’ preseason choice as WCHA Rookie of the Year.

Minnesota-Duluth (34), tied with Quinnipiac at No. 10 in the USCHO preseason poll, nipped North Dakota (33) by a point for the third spot while Ohio State claimed the fifth position.

Minnesota State is tabbed for sixth the WCHA’s newest coaches, Bemidji State’s Jim Scanlan and St. Cloud State’s Eric Rud, are expected to face the steepest uphill climb in finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

Minnesota has advanced to the NCAA championship game in each of the last three seasons, winning titles in 2012 and 2013 and falling in the championship game to Clarkson 5-4 last season. The Gophers have also won the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF playoff championship three times in that span.

2014-15 WCHA Head Coaches’ Preseason Poll
RankTeam (1st place votes)Points
1Minnesota (6)48
2Wisconsin (2)44
3Minnesota Duluth34
4North Dakota33
5Ohio State26
6Minnesota State17
7Bemidji State13
8St. Cloud State9
(note: coaches could not vote for their own teams in the poll and points weGopher F Hannah Brandt expected to repeat as WCHA Player of the year.re awarded
on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system)

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