WAUKESHA, Wis. - Marian University women's hockey reached the NCHA Slaats Cup playoffs for the fourth time in the past five seasons and have been picked to reach the postseason again after coming in sixth in the NCHA preseason poll.
Adrian College has once again been picked by league coaches to place first in the upcoming Northern Collegiate Hockey Association regular season, according to the results of the coaches' preseason poll announced today by the league office.
The Bulldogs are four-time defending regular-season champions and are coming off another appearance in the NCAA Tournament after going 22-6-1 (16-1-1 NCHA) last winter. The team finished the season ranked No. 5 in the country and received nine first-place votes (all possible) and 81 points.
They will look to once again build on the repeat regular-season and Slaats Cup championships they claimed a year ago, led this season by NCHA Freshman of the Year Kate Turner. Turner stepped in at goalie last year as a freshman and posted 21 wins, a .947 save percentage (8th in the NCAA), 1.00 goals-against average (2nd in the NCAA) and an NCAA-best 11 shutouts. NCHA All-league honorees Troy Harshman (13-15-28), Kelly O'Sullivan (7-23-30) and Brooke Schembri (8-11-19) all are back for the Bulldogs.
The College of St. Scholastica (16-7-5, 13-3-2 NCHA) came in second, receiving 71 points. The Saints return their goaltending duo of Lexi Thomaczek (.933 sv/2.18 GAA) and Lori Huseby (.922 sv/2.22 GAA), as well as their second-leading scorer from last season in Alexia Klaas (12-13-25).
Right behind was Lake Forest College (20-9-0, 15-3-0 NCHA), which accumulated 67 points and received the final first-place vote. The Foresters spent the majority of last season receiving votes in the national polls but lost some key pieces to graduation, including NCHA Player of the year Olivia Spellmire (23-28-51). LFC will still be in good hands with NCHA All-League members Amy Budde (17-19-36) and Lexi Morgan (22-12-34), as well as NCHA All-Freshman member Megan Lyke (13-13-26).
A group of three came in closely packed next, with Concordia University Wisconsin fourth (52 points, 12-13-2 last year), St. Norbert College fifth (48 points, 9-14-4) and Marian University sixth (41 points, 7-20-0).
The Falcons return four of their top five scorers from last season, with Kristen Kennedy (9-17-26) and Natasha Wanless (11-13-24) leading the way. CUW also is set in goal with returners Christina Pattengale (12 games) and Breanna Thompson (15 games) back on the ice. The Sabres also return a key piece of the defense, as All-NCHA goalie Lindsay Strainis is back after posting a .918 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average while making nearly 30 saves per contest.
Northland College was seventh with 32 points. Second-year programs Trine University (eighth with 21 points) and Aurora University (ninth with 19) followed, with Finlandia University rounding out the poll.
WOMEN'S NCHA COACHES POLL
1. Adrian 81 points (9 first-place votes)
2. St. Scholastica 71
3. Lake Forest 67 (1 first-place vote)
4. Concordia Wisconsin 52
5. St. Norbert 48
6. Marian 41
7. Northland 32
8. Trine 21
9. Aurora 19
10. Finlandia 19
Marian opens the season Saturday, Oct. 27 when the Sabres host Saint Mary's (Minn.) in non-conference action at 4 p.m. from Blue Line Family Ice Center.