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Northern Michigan University picked 4th, 5th in WCHA; Alaska-Anchorage suspends season

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech hockey teams were the only ones involved in differences between the preseason WCHA polls conducted for media members and the league’s coaches.

NMU was tabbed fourth and MTU fifth in the media poll released Monday, while those Upper Peninsula rivals reversed — Tech fourth and the Wildcats fifth — when the coaches’ votes were announced Tuesday.

It shouldn’t be too surprising as those Upper Peninsula rivals were separated by just a single vote in each poll. With 10 people voting in each poll, Northern got 68 vote points and Tech 67 from the media, while the coaches gave MTU 64 and NMU 63.

There was a slight difference in vote totals as the media could vote for all 10 league teams while coaches could only vote for nine as they weren’t allowed to vote for their own team.

The places for all other league teams were identical — Minnesota State-Mankato was picked No. 1, followed by Bemidji State and Bowling Green State to round out the top three.

While the Mavericks received all 10 first-place votes from the media, Mankato received six first-place votes from coaches as Bemidji got one and Bowling Green three.

Bemidji and BGSU had the only other close race besides Tech and Northern, where they were separated by just one point in the coaches poll.

After the Wildcats and Huskies, Lake Superior State was picked a distant sixth, followed by Alaska-Fairbanks, Ferris State, Alaska-Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville.

Anchorage announced Friday it was suspending hockey operations for this season, part of a larger announcement that it is suspending all competition in indoor sports for the winter. It also includes men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and women’s gymnastics.

“We were saddened to learn this news,” WCHA Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson said. “The University of Alaska-Anchorage has been a long-standing and solid member of the WCHA since 1993.

“Alaska-Anchorage has had a storied program that has sent a number players into the professional ranks as well as careers off the ice.”

The league said that under the terms of the WCHA Return to Competition plan unanimously approved by the league’s board of directors last Tuesday, WCHA members have until this Tuesday to notify the league if they intend to opt out of the league for the upcoming season.

With this decision, the WCHA will be a nine-time league this season. It is also expected to disband after the seven Midwest members announced in July 2019 that they would bolt the league to re-form the CCHA, leaving the two Alaska schools and Alabama-Huntsville as the only remaining teams.

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

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