As I mentioned on Thursday, I was one of the media members given a vote in the CCHA's pre-season poll. I wanted to share my thoughts of the poll, and at the bottom of this post I invite you to share yours. So here we go ...
Well, let's start with the actual results of the poll, in case you missed them. Here's how the poll of the 11 CCHA coaches shook out (first-place votes in parentheses; each coach was not allowed to vote for his team, with 11 points going to first place, 10 for second, etc.):
- Notre Dame (7) 105
- Michigan (2) 100
- Western Michigan (2) 97
- Miami 78
- Ferris State 67
- Ohio State 66
- Michigan State 56
- Bowling Green 43
- Northern Michigan 43
- Alaska 31
- Lake Superior 29
You should note that BG and Northern Michigan actually tied for eighth (my software can't handle that, sorry). On to the media vote, which included 87 media members ...
- Michigan (50) 903
- Western Michigan (25) 825
- Notre Dame (9) 765
- Ferris State (3) 626
- Miami 622
- Michigan State 525
- Ohio State 438
- Northern Michigan 389
- Bowling Green 264
- Lake Superior 232
- Alaska 150
And finally, here's how I voted in this poll. I'll also share a brief comment of why I voted as I did. Here we go ...
- Michigan -- I went back and forth between the Wolverines and another school before settling on UM. I thought the loss of Shawn Hunwick is a big loss, but adding Jared Rutledge from the national squad might couteract that. Also, having 20 letterwinners back from last year's champ ended up being the hair-splitter between this school and ...
- Western Michigan -- I came close to voting the Broncos No. 1. Very close. REALLY close. Having Frank Slubowski in goal and Dan DeKeyser back on the blueline may be enough to give this team a title, and it wouldn't surprise me if that happened. In fact, if you slipped another ballot in front of me right now I might put WMU at the top.
- Notre Dame. Pretty straight-forward so far, eh? The Fightin' Irish return 20 lettermen from last season, including a pair of big-time point producers in T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee. I was shocked that this team finished eighth last season, and I suspect that such slippage won't happen again.
- Miami. This wasn't as easy as it might seem, because the RedHawks lost more players from last season (12) than they have returning (10). I suspect that things will come together for this team at some point, but it may be later rather than sooner because of the youth and uncertainly in goal.
- Ferris State. The Bulldogs also lost a lot of key players from last year's regular-season champs, especially in goal as Taylor Nelson departs. But the national forecasters still believe FSU is a Top 20 team, and the work of C.J. Motte in goal may be an early deciding factor on whether that is true or not.
- Michigan State. Remember how I went back-and-forth on the top two spots? I had some uncertainty here as well, but I went with the Spartans despite the loss of 10 lettermen from last season. A lot of people like MSU's incoming class, which includes three NHL draft picks, and I suspect the Spartans will have a chance to surprise.
- Northern Michigan. The Wildcats didn't lose much from last season, returning 18 lettermen. I think NMU is going to be a good defensive team as goalie Jared Coreau plays in front of an experienced group of defensemen. If the 'Cats can find some goals, they could become a dangerous team.
- Ohio State. The Buckeyes return 20 lettermen, including seven of their top eight scorers, which could make this my biggest mistake on this ballot. But one of the losses was goalie Cal Heeter, which is important. And here was my other problem: I couldn't shake how the Buckeyes fell from one of the top spots in the CCHA to a tie for eighth place last season.
- Bowling Green. I've posted a notebook and a story about this team, so you know the details. This team could be better than ninth, but they're going to have to prove it.
- Lake Superior. I know the Lakers return 20 lettermen from last season, including goalie Kevin Kapelka and several top scorers. But I thought the losses on defense were significant, and this is a team that likes to win tight-checking, low-scoring games. That's tough to do when your team is inexperienced on the blueline.
- Alaska. The Nanooks do return a lot of scoring, but they will lean heavily on a large -- but admittedly talented -- freshman class. The seven lettermen lost from last season have taken chunks out of the defense and goaltending, which means Alaska will need that offense to come through.