The WCHA announced the 2020-21 preseason awards on Monday and the Minnesota Golden Gophers were predicted to finish in second place in the conference. The Gophers also earned some preseason awards as Abbey Murphy was named the preseason selection for the WCHA Rookie of the year and defense Emily Brown was named to the Preseason All-WCHA team.
The Gophers were selected to finish in second place in the WCHA right behind the defending conference champions in the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin received four first place votes for a point total of 34 while the Gophers received three first place votes for a total of 31 points. It appears it is likely to be like the last few seasons where the conference race between the Gophers and Badgers came down to the last weekend of the season. Ohio State was predicted to finish in third place with Minnesota Duluth 4th, Bemidji State 5th, Minnesota State 6th, and St. Cloud State 7th. The Huskies are already a bit behind the 8-ball as they announced Sunday they they have shut down their program for the next two weeks and nee to postpone their first games this weekend due to COVID.
Minnesota freshman forward Abbey Murphy was selected as the WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year. The forward from Evergreen Park, Illinois played for the Chicago Mission club team for the past several years helping them win several national championships. She also was a three time member of the US U-18 World Championship team where she helped the US win two golds and a silver over the last three years.
Fellow Gopher freshman Anne Cherkowski also received one vote in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Wisconsin’s Darryl Watts was named the WCHA Preseason Player of the Year while Minnesota’s Graze Zumwinkle received a vote. That vote was not enough to land Zumwinkle on the Preseason All-WCHA team however. Only one Gopher—defense Emily Brown was named to that list. She was joined by Wisconsin’s Watts and Sophie Shirley, UMD’s Ashton Bell, and Ohio State’s Emma Maltais and Andrea Braendli.
Two other Gophers besides Zumwinkle received votes for the Preseason All-WCHA team but did not make the squad including forward Taylor Heise and defense Olivia Knowles.
The Gophers will open WCHA play this Saturday when they host Ohio State at Ridder Arena. We will have a full season preview and a loo towards this weekend’s series later this week.