September 27, 2005
CCHA Coaches, Media Buck History, Pick OSU

By James Jahnke

DETROIT – In the minds of CCHA media and coaches, Michigan is a notch below where it has been, Ohio State is ready to break through, Northern Michigan is a top-tier team, and Michigan State still hasn’t gotten back to where it wants to be.

The Buckeyes, Wolverines, Wildcats and Spartans were the top four teams – in that order – in both the coaches and media polls released at CCHA Media Day on Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.

JRJ on the CCHA

INCH's James Jahnke reveals his thoughts on the CCHA pecking order along with his choices for the pre-season all-league team.

Pre-Season Poll
1. Ohio State
2. Michigan
3. Michigan State
4. Northern Michigan
5. Miami
6. Nebraska-Omaha
7. Bowling Green
8. Alaska-Fairbanks
9. Notre Dame
10. Lake Superior State
11. Western Michigan
12. Ferris State

All-League Team
F-Tom Fritsche, Ohio State
F-T.J. Hensick, Michigan
F-Scott Parse, Nebraska-Omaha
D-Andy Greene, Miami
D-Nathan Oystrick, No. Michigan
G-David Caruso, Ohio State

Ohio State, which finished second to Michigan in the regular season and playoffs last season, returns almost every key component of its roster, including forwards Rod Pelley and Tom Fritsche, defenseman Nate Guenin and goalie David Caruso, all of whom appeared on a Preseason All-CCHA team Tuesday.

Michigan lost 13 players from last year, including goalie Al Montoya and forwards Jeff Tambellini and Mike Brown, underclassmen who left early for professional contracts. The turnover will be tough for the Wolverines to overcome, even with a talented freshman class featuring 2005 first-round NHL draft picks Jack Johnson (defenseman) and Andrew Cogliano (forward).

Northern Michigan has star power in defenseman Nathan Oystrick and forward Darin Olver, but must replace starter Tuomas Tarkki in net.

Michigan State lost star center Jim Slater to graduation, but returns a significant number of key contributors. Junior goalie Dominic Vicari made the preseason all-conference second team, and senior forward Colton Fretter earned honorable mention Tuesday.

The polls also agreed that Nebraska-Omaha is fifth, Bowling Green is eighth, Notre Dame is ninth and Lake Superior State is 11th. The coaches had Miami sixth, Alaska Fairbanks seventh, Ferris State 10th and Western Michigan 12th, while the media flipped the RedHawks and Nanooks and the Bulldogs and Broncos.

Lake Superior will be one of two CCHA teams with a new coach this year, as Jim Roque takes over from fired Frank Anzalone. Jeff Jackson, who led LSSU to national titles in 1992 and 1994, takes the reins at Notre Dame.

The CCHA also will have a different playoff format this season, with the top four teams in the regular-season standings receiving first-round byes in the tournament while teams Nos. 5-8 host teams Nos. 9-12 in a best-of-three series. Those winners will face teams Nos. 1-4 in another best-of-three series with the four victors comprising the championship field March 17-18 at Joe Louis Arena.

Finally, instant replay will be utilized on goals scored at Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan this season. The other nine CCHA members are expected to add the technology next season.

CCHA Preseason Polls

Coaches Poll
1. Ohio State (11) 121
2. Michigan (1) 108
3. Northern Michigan 96
4. Michigan State 93
5. Nebraska-Omaha 78
6. Miami 69
7. Alaska-Fairbanks 65
8. Bowling Green 50
9. Notre Dame 36
10. Ferris State 28
11. Lake Superior State 23
12. Western Michigan 22

Media Poll
1. Ohio State (45) 622
2. Michigan (7) 581
3. No. Michigan (1) 494
4. Michigan State (1) 432
5. Nebraska-Omaha 380
6. Alaska-Fairbanks 372
7. Miami 368
8. Bowling Green 300
9. Notre Dame 196
10. Western Michigan 179
11. Lake Superior 159
12. Ferris State 112

First place votes in parentheses, followed by total points.