MADISON, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - University of Wisconsin-River Falls has been selected to win the inaugural Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women's ice hockey title, according to a preseason poll conducted by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
The winner of the four-team conference tournament following the conclusion of the regular season will be crowned the WIAC champion.
UW-River Falls received all eight first-place votes in the league projections after posting a 21-7-2 record a season ago - marking the fifth consecutive season the program achieved the 20-victory mark. The Falcons welcome back 14 letterwinners from that club, including seniors Kait Mason and Katie Batters. Mason was an American Hockey Coaches Association All-America First Team selection, while Batters claimed second team laurels. Mason became the first Falcon to reach the career 100-point total in program history. She enters the 2013-14 campaign with 55 goals and 102 total points. Batters registered a team-leading 21 goals last year.
The Falcons own six NCAA Division III Championship showings, including five straight appearances, with two fourth-place finishes. Head coach Joe Cranston enters his 14th season in charge of the program and owns 238 wins – the most in conference history.
UW-Superior applauds the return of 16 letterwinners from last year's team that established a school single-season record with 152 assists and the second-most points in a season with 256. Junior Dani Schultz ranks in the top 10 on the school's career list with 35 goals and 64 points, while senior Shanley Peters is fifth on the career chart with 24 victories and 45 games played. The Yellowjackets will play 12 of their first 16 games away from home during the 2013-14 campaign. Head coach Dan Laughlin is the program's winningest coach with 178 triumphs to his credit.
UW-Stevens Point returns 19 letterwinners from a season ago, and has a roster that includes five seniors, eight juniors, nine sophomores and three freshmen. Five of the top-seven scorers are back, including senior Cassandra Salmen, who had a team-high 12 goals and 20 points, while sophomore Emily Lester contributed eight goals and 10 assists. The Pointers have made four trips to the NCAA Division III Championship, posting a runner-up finish and a pair of third-place finishes. UW-Stevens Point will play eight of its first 10 games at home.
UW-Eau Claire welcomes back 12 letterwinners, including five of its top-six point-scorers from last year, all of whom had 11 or more points. Junior Sam Knutson led the team with 10 goals and five assists. The top returning goalie is sophomore Paige Turner, who started 17 games and played in 19 a season ago. UW-Eau Claire will begin the 2013-14 campaign with four of its first five contests at home. Head coach Mike Collins enters his 14th season at the helm of the program and is the only head coach in program history.
2013-14 Preseason Predictions - Voted on by WIAC Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors
|1. UW-River Falls (8)||21-7-2|
|3. UW-Stevens Point||12-13-3|
|4. UW-Eau Claire||9-14-4|
|( )--First-place votes|
Head Coach: Mike Collins; 14th season at UWEC; 131-173-35
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 12/10
Goalies Returning/Lost: 2/1
Head Coach: Joe Cranston; 15th season at UWRF; 238-114-34
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 14/4
Goalies Returning/Lost: 3/0
Head Coach: Ann Ninnemann; 8th season at UWSP; 109-63-21
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 19/3
Goalies Returning/Lost: 3/1
Head Coach: Dan Laughlin; 11th season at UWS; 178-73-25
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 16/5
Goalies Returning/Lost: 2/0