Sept. 24, 1999

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The annual Central Collegiate Hockey Association preseason coaches and media polls predict that the Notre Dame hockey team again will be in the mix for home ice in the first round of the CCHA Tournament (the top five teams will play host to three-game series following the 1999-2000 season).

The league’s 12 coaches picked Notre Dame to finish fourth, edging Ohio State by nine voting points (104-93). The 41-member media poll picked OSU as the fourth-place finisher, just ahead of the Irish (356-340).

Michigan edged Michigan State (140-131) atop the coaches poll while MSU held a slight edge over the Wolverines (462-453) in the media poll. Northern Michigan was picked third in both polls, including three first-place votes from the 41 media voters.

The final six spots in both polls contained teams in the same order: Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior, Miami, Western Michigan, newcomer Nebraska-Omaha and Alaska Fairbanks.

(See fact sheet, season preview and team rosters for Notre Dame preseason information).

Michigan returns just 17 of 25 letterwinners from its 1998-99 team that went 25-11-6 overall, finished second in the CCHA, won the CCHA Tournament and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Top returners for the Wolverines include sophomore center and ’99 CCHA Rookie of the Year Mike Comrie (19 goals-25 assists), sophomore goaltender Josh Blackburn (25-10-1, 2.28 goals-against avg. and .905 save pct.), junior center Mark Kosick (12G-23A) and senior defenseman Sean Peach (3G-11A).

Michigan State returns just 15 of 24 letterwinners from its ’98-’99 team that went 29-6-7, won the CCHA regular-season title and lost to New Hampshire in the NCAA semifinals. Top MSU returners include All-America junior goaltender Joe Blackburn (21-5-7, 1.55, .928), All-America senior defenseman Mike Weaver (1G-6A) and senior center Shawn Horcoff (12G-25A). MSU’s biggest losses include the 1998-99 CCHA player of the year, center Mike York (22G-32A), and graduated left wing Bryan Adams (21G-16A).

Northern Michigan welcomes back 17 of 22 letterwinners from a 22-15-5 team in 1998-99 that placed fifth in the CCHA before advancing to the CCHA title game and the NCAAs. Junior right wing J.P. Vigier (21G-18) and senior LW Roger Trudeau (19G-14A) are NMU’s top returners, along with junior goalie Dan Ragusett (16-11-5, 2.49, .912). NMU lost just one player who totaled more than 20 points during the 1998-99 season: center Buddy Smith (9G-35A).

Ohio State returns 16 of 24 letterwinners from its 1998-99 team, with All-America center Hugo Boisvert (24G-27A) and All-America goaltender Jeff Maund (2.34, .921) both leaving early for pro hockey. The Buckeyes are coming off a 21-16-4 season that saw them finish third in the CCHA and return to the NCAAs. Top OSU returners include senior winger Eric Meloche (11G-16A) and junior defenseman Andre Signoretti (3G-21A).

Bowling Green has all but four of 23 letterwinners back from a ’98-’99 team that finished 17-18-3 overall and seventh in the CCHA. Senior F Adam Edinger (23G-25A) earned first team all-CCHA honors last season while junior F Ryan Murphy (10G-23A) skated with the USA junior national team. Senior Mike Jones (8G-21A) also returns after earning the CCHA’s “top offensive defenseman” award. BG’s biggest losses were forward Dan Price (21G-32A) and goaltender Mike Savard (15-14-2, 3.23, .889).

Ferris State lost 11 of 24 letterwinners from its ’98-’99 team that placed sixth in the CCHA while posting a 14-16-6 overall record. Senior C Brian McCullough (14G-14A) and junior goalie Vince Owen (12-14-5, 2.45, .910) are the top returners for FSU, with the top losses including senior RW Joel Iwin (10G-13A).

Lake Superior snuck into the 1999 CCHA playoffs en route to a 11-23-4 overall record, with 22 of 28 letterwinners returning. Senior RW Trent Walford (10G-12A) and junior netminder Jayme Platt (8-16-2, 3.08, .896) lead the large contingent of veterans, with Tobin Praznik (13G-11A) representing the only player lost who totaled more than eight points in ’98-’99.

Miami just missed qualifying for the 1999 CCHA playoffs but returns 19 of 24 letterwinners from its ’98-’99 team that went 11-20-5 overall, with former Miami player Enrico Blasi entering his first year as head coach of his alma mater. Junior Jason Deskins (26G-14A) was a second team all-CCHA pick last season while senior forward Mark Shalawylo (13G-21A) gives Miami two quality returning scorers. None of the players lost totaled more than 15 points last season, with graduated defenseman Ryan Brindley totaling four goals and 11 assists.

Western Michigan returns 18 of 23 letterwinners from a 1998-99 team that finished 10th in the CCHA and posted a 6-20-8 overall record. Junior center David Gove (9G-14A), senior defenseman Daryl Andrews (3G-11A) and sophomore Jeff Reynaert (1-7-1, 3.57, .891) lead the WMU returners, with the top losses including graduated wingers Frank Novock (6G-16A) and Chuck Mindel (14G-9A), plus goalie Matt Barnes (512-7, 3.33, .886).

Nebraska Omaha embarks on its first CCHA season after going 11-24-0 in 1998-99. The Mavericks return 21 of 29 letterwinners, led by senior goalie Kendall Sidoruk (7-14-0, 3.28, .888) and junior winger Jason White (11G-16A). The top three UNO players lost were all defensemen, led by Todd Kowal (5G-10A).

Alaska Fairbanks enters the era of first-year head coach Guy Gadowsky looking to improve on a 1998-99 season that yielded an 11-22-1 overall record and an 11th-place finish in the CCHA, with 20 of 26 letterwinners back. Top returners include junior blueliner Darren Tiemstra (4G-5A) and senior C Kerry Hafele (8G-11A) but UAF lost a solid pair of veteran wingers in Chris Kirwan (14G-12A) and Jamie Coady (10G-9A).

1999-2000 CCHA Coaches Poll      1999-2000 CCHA  Media Poll1.    Michigan (10)       140    1.    Michigan State (18)    4622.    Michigan State (2)  131    2.    Michigan (19)          4543.    Northern Michigan   121    3.    Northern Michigan (3)  3894.    Notre Dame          104    4.    Ohio State (1)         3565.    Ohio State           93    5.    Notre Dame             3406.    Bowling Green        89    6.    Bowling Green          263   7.    Ferris State         67    7.    Ferris State           2138.    Lake Superior        56    8.    Lake Superior          2019.    Miami                53    9.    Miami                  188           10.    Western Michigan    38    10.   Western Michigan       15311.   Nebraska Omaha       25    11.   Nebraska Omaha          9712.   Alaska Fairbanks     19    12.   Alaska Fairbanks        82