When it comes to pre-season polls, there are two schools of thought: last year's champ is automatically the number one rank, or, whoever has the strongest team coming into the new season grabs the top spot.
This year's votes saw both sides of the argument, but the potential strength of this year's Notre Dame team outweighed last season's state championship for Wausau West and the Tritons from the Fox Valley have been selected as the WiPH Pre-Season Number One team.
Notre Dame returns all but one player from last year (Conner Doran). Expected returning forwards include seniors Brandon Walls and Miko Filon; and juniors Jason Reynolds, Steven Phillips, Will Pavek and Riley Christensen.
On defense, all-everything senior Tim Davison leads the team, along with juniors Grant Kluesner and Will Woodward. Sophomore Luke Davison has mega potential.
Junior netminder Chris Nell is an All-State selection and will be a star in goal.
Number two Wausau West will have to recover from the loss of goalie Austin Priebe to the junior ranks, but will count heavily on players such as senior forwards Kyle Lee and Tom Kilgore. Junior Tanner Gould and sophomore Logan Clemment will contribute.
On the blueline, seniors Seth Wage and Alex Halbrook will lead the Warriors, along with junior star John Feemster. Sophomore John Metzinger should see much ice time.
In net, sophomore Sam Weigert will take over for Priebe.
Third-ranked Marquette has a few skilled players returning from last year's state run. All-State players Mike Roznik (goalie), Joe Llaurado (forward) and Aaron Miller (defense) will lead the Hilltopper squad.
Other top players are senior forward Kevin Hannigan, and juniors Griff Jeszka and Will Podewils.
Senior d-men Connor Diffley and Cam Biel are key contributors.
Eau Claire Memorial comes in at number four this season. The Old Abes return senior forwards Matthew Knapp, Brady Burzynski, and Hayden Bowe. Junior Brady Bollinger, along with sophomores Charlie Grasskamp and Jake Bresser will play key roles.
On defense, juniors Michael Kapla and Jake Sparger will lead the defensive corps. Seniors Dan Hanna and Killy Kitzman will battle for the netminding spot.
Coming in at number five is Superior. The Spartans are led at forward by seniors Nolan Holcombe, Caleb Dushkin, and Gerald, Steven, and Richard Mikel.
The defense is led by seniors Brett Bukowski and Brady Uotinen. Senior Scot Crawford and junior Zach Reiswig will compete for the goalie position.
Verona cracks the top ten at number six. Top forwards include seniors Eddie Matsushima, transfer Ben Scherschel, and Louie Ellis. Juniors Zach Jones and Zac Keryluk will play important roles.
On defense, four seniors--Brian Chenoweth, Cole Gastel, Alex Watzke, and Keegan Roehrig will get key ice time. Senior Travis Dahlk will start in net.
Waunakee gets a high billing at number seven. Senior forward Jason Ford will be a key offensive player, while brother Keegan (sophomore defenseman) will patrol the blue line. Junior Blake Anderson is expected to contribute at forward. Seniors Conner Scheffler and Chase Busch will skate on defense.
Senior Mitch Horras returns in net for the Warriors.
Checking in at number eight is Green Bay United. The Gryphons are led at forward by senior Jay Routheau and junior Hunter Routheau. Seniors Joe Spencer and Austin Thompson will see significant ice time as well.
On defense, senior Michael Pederson and sophomore Eli Harris will play key roles.
Sophomore Will Griswold gets first shot in net, but will be challenged by senior Thomas Tremblay.
Middleton starts the season at number nine. They return at forward seniors Scott Berthiaume and Brandon Thayer; and junior forwards Cam Brown and Tony Schaller. Junior defensemen Jake Bunz and Ethan McCloud will return as well as senior Mike Carr.
New Richmond rounds out the top ten. The Tigers are led by senior forwards Nate Jones, Parker Olson, and Max Skatrud.
On defense, juniors Austin Zywiec, Kaleb Kier, and Jarek Manske are key components.
In net, junior Jacob Hilby will be the leading candidate.
Other top teams include University School, Homestead, Ashwaubenon, Onalaska, WSFLG, and Wausau East.
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