WAUKESHA, Wis.--The Adrian College Bulldogs are predicted to repeat their 2015 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) title for the 2015-16 season, according to the results of the coaches' preseason poll announced Wednesday by the league office.
Adrian swept the NCHA regular season and tournament championships during the 2014-15 campaign, posting a 24-3-3 overall record in Adam Krug's first season as head coach en route to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship. As a result, the Bulldogs picked up nine of the 11 first-place votes from the coaches (who couldn't vote for their own team) and led the preseason poll with 99 points. Adrian returns a deep roster that includes Kyle Brothers, an AHCA/CCM Division III first-team All-American who had scoring totals of 24 goals and 25 assists for 49 points, and fellow sophomore classmates Blake Butzow and Mathew Thompson who joined Brothers on the conference's all-freshmen team.
St. Norbert College was second, earning 91 points and the remaining pair of first-place votes. The Green Knights battled for the league title all season, going 20-6-2 before falling in the NCHA championship game. Forward Michael Hill (20g+13a=33p) and defensemen Blake Thompson (8+8=16), both NCHA First-Team choices a season ago, are back to lead the way.
Milwaukee School of Engineering comes in third with 76 points, posting a 17-11-0 record last season. Omar Mullan earned first-team all-league honors as a freshman last season, finishing fourth overall in scoring with 36 points (15g+21a).
The fourth-place position belongs to the College of St. Scholastica and fifth sees a Lake Forest College squad that went 15-7-5 last season and has AHCA/CCM Division III Men's First-Team All-American and NCHA Player of the Year Leo Podolsky returning between the pipes.
Sixth place belongs to Marian University, seventh to Concordia University Wisconsin and eighth to Lawrence, as the middle of the pack in the conference will be tightly packed.
Rounding out the poll is Northland College in ninth, Finlandia University in 10th and league-newcomer Aurora University in 11th place.
Fans can catch a first glimpse of the Bulldogs on Saturday in their Black and Gold intrasquad game at Arrington Ice Arena, beginning at 12:30 p.m. The season officially starts on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30-31, at MSOE in a NCHA two-game series.
2015-16 NCHA Coaches' Poll (with place, school, points and first-place votes noted in parentheses)
1. Adrian College, 99 points, (9)
2. St. Norbert College, 91 (2)
3. Milwaukee School of Engineering, 76
4. College of St. Scholastica, 71
5. Lake Forest College, 69
6. Marian University, 50
7. Concordia University Wisconsin, 47
8. Lawrence University, 40
9. Northland College, 29
10. Finlandia University, 22
11. Aurora University, 11
(Portions of this news release courtesy of the NCHA office.)