Mavericks dominate CCHA preseason awards

·2 min read

Sep. 20—MANKATO — The preseason awards have started to roll in for the Minnesota State men's hockey team.

In the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's coaches' poll, the Mavericks were picked to finish first, receiving 67 of 70 possible points. MSU got five of eight first-place votes.

The league's coaches also picked MSU junior Nathan Smith as the preseason Player of the Year. Smith was a second-team All-WCHA pick last season, when he finished with 25 points in 28 games.

The CCHA's six-player all-conference team was announced Monday, with MSU's Smith and Julian Napravnik earning two of three forward spots, and Akito Hirose getting one of two defenseman spots. Dryden McKay was the team's goaltender. The eight CCHA head coaches also selected the all-league team.

Northern Michigan forward Joseph Nardi and Michigan Tech defenseman Colin Swoyer were the other players picked to the team.

Bowling Green's Austen Swankler was named the preseason Rookie of the Year.

McKay, who was the WCHA's Player of the Year last season, was also one of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists. He led the country with a 1.54 goals-against average among goaltenders who played more than 15 games. He lost out on the Mike Richter Award for the nation's top goaltender to Minnesota's Jack LaFontaine.

Napravnik, the WCHA's Offensive Player of the Year last season, led the Mavericks with 28 points in 27 games.

Hirose was the WCHA's Rookie of the Year in 2020-21, and led the Mavericks in plus/minus at +18.

Bemidji State was ranked second in the CCHA preseason poll with 63 points, followed by Michigan Tech (55), Northern Michigan (54), Bowling Green (46), Lake Superior State (45), Ferris State (32) and St. Thomas (30).

The Mavericks open the season Oct. 2-3 at Massachusetts.

Kevin Dudley is at kdudley@mankatofreepress.com. Twitter @Dudley7Kevin

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