The 2017-18 season hasn’t even officially begun yet and already the accolades are rolling in for the hockey Buckeyes. Well, one accolade anyway. The WCHA preseason polls are out and Ohio State goaltender Kassidy Sauve is the conference’s preseason player of the year.
|wcha preseason player of the year||votes|
|Kassidy Sauve, RS-Jr. G, Ohio State||6|
|Abby Roque, So. F, Wisconsin||1|
Though this award doesn’t guarantee domination in the upcoming season, it does serve as a reminder of the complete beast that Sauve was last year. In 2016-17 the Whitby, Ontario native posted a program record for single season save percentage (.942) and single season saves (1,135). She also added six shutouts to her career total to tie for the most whitewashes by any Buckeye goalie ever (12). This led to a well deserved Second Team All-American selection, essentially acknowledging Sauve as the No. 2 goalie in the country behind only Ann-Renee Desbiens of Wisconsin.
|WCHA Preseason Rookie of the Year||votes|
|Grace Zumwinkle, F, Minnesota||4|
|Ashton Bell, F, Minnesota-Duluth||1|
|Clair DeGeorge, F, Bemidji State||1|
|Emma Maltais, F, Ohio State||1|
Now Desbiens is out of the picture and the spotlight shines squarely on Sauve in 2017-18. The Buckeye netminder received six of the seven coaches’ votes for player of the year, which is basically a unanimous decision. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players, though Nadine Muzerall’s opinion of her goaltender is clear: “We have, I think, the best goalie in the country, not just in our league, with Kassidy Sauve."
|wcha preseason coaches poll||pts|
|St. Cloud State||11|
Sauve is once again expected to be a deciding factor in Ohio State’s success and no doubt has her eye on sole ownership of that program shutout record. While she was the most familiar Buck to garner preseason recognition, she wasn’t the only one.
Incoming freshman Emma Maltais received one nod in the coaches’ preseason rookie of the year voting. Maltais joins Ohio State after a stellar junior career with the Oakville Hornets. She departed as the team’s all-time points leader (147). The highly lauded forward has also been a regular selection for Canada’s national teams.
With such quality talent on the roster, it’s no surprise that the WCHA coaches foresee an improvement in the standings for the Bucks. They voted Ohio State into a tie for third in the preseason poll. As Muzerall noted, this is an uncommonly high placement for Ohio State: “We are very excited here in Columbus to start off a new year. We are grateful we are tied for third in the WCHA [poll]. It’s been a while since we’ve been ranked that high and that’s the goal - we want to continue to strive to be better each year. Our team continues to grow with our new staff and our new direction.”
The Buckeye women get geared up for the season two weeks from tonight (Sept. 26) by hosting an exhibition match against the South Korean women’s national team at 7pm. The season proper gets underway on Sept. 29 when Ohio State skates its home opener against Rensselaer at 6pm.