Wisconsin senior Bernd Bruckler, a 2003 All-American and All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association goaltender, has been voted the conference's preseason Player of the Year in balloting of the league's 10 head coaches, the WCHA announced Wednesday morning.
The Badgers were picked to finish third, claiming one of 10 first-place votes and 64 points overall. Points are awarded on a 9-to-1 scale; coaches do not vote for their own team.
Minnesota Duluth is the runaway favorite to win this year's MacNaughton Cup, taking seven first-place votes and 79 points overall. North Dakota (66 points) and Colorado College (61) also claimed a first-place vote and round out the top four.
Bruckler received five of 10 votes for player of the year, edging Michigan Tech forward Chris Conner. Bruckler set numerous school records at Wisconsin last season, leading the Badgers to a third-place finish in the WCHA with a 2.11 goals-against average in league play and a .928 save percentage. Conner had 25 goals and 14 assists and was a second-team all-conference forward. Colorado College forward Brett Sterling received the other player of the year vote after scoring 28 points in 30 games last year.
North Dakota forward Travis Zajac was named preseason Rookie of they Year.
Preseason WCHA poll results (total points awarded in parentheses), 2003-04 WCHA record follows:
1. Minnesota Duluth (79), 19-7-2
2. North Dakota (66), 20-5-3
3. Wisconsin (64), 14-7-7
4. Colorado College (61), 11-15-2
5. Minnesota (51), 15-12-1
6. Denver (45), 13-10-5
7. St. Cloud State (30), 12-12-4
8. Minnesota State (27), 6-18-4
9. Michigan Tech (17), 6-19-3
10. Alaska Anchorage (10), 7-18-3
Bruckler preseason player of the year
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