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Leading the way: After leading WCHA in scoring, Northern Michigan University’s Griffin Loughran finishes 2nd in voting for preseason Player of the Year

Northern Michigan University’s Griffin Loughran looks to intercept a pass as he puts pressure on the St. Cloud State defense in the second period of their nonconference game played at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — Junior forward Griffin Loughran of the Northern Michigan University hockey team has built quite a reputation in the WCHA.

Not only an instigator in games as he readily admits, he was also the leading scorer in league games last season with 32 points.

That made it a no-brainer for him to be selected to the Preseason Media All-WCHA team, including receiving all 10 possible votes and coming in as runner-up for the league’s Preseason Player of the Year.

Gaining the Player of the Year nod was junior goalie Dryden McKay of Minnesota State-Mankato. He earned six first-place and 25 overall votes to four first-place and 21 votes for Loughran as media members picked their top three players.

Bemidji State’s Owen Sillinger was a distant third with six vote points.

Northern Michigan Unviersity's Griffin Loughran, right, takes on Alaska-Fairbanks’ Chris Jandric on Nov. 15, 2019, at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal file photo)

While Loughran was the only NMU player earning votes for Player of the Year, three Wildcat forwards were mentioned in the Rookie of the Year race — Grant Johnson, who earned three votes, Jett Jungels with two and Mack Byers with one.

Topping the rookie list was MTU forward Carson Bantle, who had 16 votes. Each media voter could vote for three players.

Loughran also led voting among forwards for the Preseason Media All-WCHA Team with 10 votes. He was joined on that team by Bowling Green senior Connor Ford, who had seven votes, and Sillinger with five.

Defensemen picked were Bemidji sophomore Elias Rosen and Ferris State sophomore Jake Willets, while McKay was the only goalie earning any votes.

NMU finished the 2019-20 season with an 18-16-4 record, finishing third in the league standings, and along with Loughran returns nine other forwards, five defensemen and three goalies who saw action last season.

The Wildcats open the season at home at 7 p.m. on Nov. 25, the night before Thanksgiving, with a nonconference game against Lake Superior State, then have a home-and-home series against Michigan Tech that Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27-28 with Friday at home.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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