EDMONTON – The defending Canada West champion Alberta Golden Bears are the coaches' pick to repeat as the conference's best.
Alberta topped the annual preseason coaches poll, which was released Wednesday ahead of the 2019-20 season opening this weekend. The Golden Bears, who downed the Saskatchewan Huskies in last year's CW Final, earned all seven possible first-place votes for a total of 49 points.
The 2019-20 season opens this weekend, with the Golden Bears visiting the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver. Every men's hockey game will once again be available exclusively this season on Canada West TV Presented by Co-op. You can purchase your all-access, or sport pass by clicking here.
2019 CW MHKY PRESEASON COACHES POLL
Team - Points (First-place votes)
1. Alberta Golden Bears - 49 (7)
2. Saskatchewan Huskies - 41
3. Calgary Dinos - 36 (1)
4. UBC Thunderbirds - 29
5. Mount Royal Cougars - 28
6. Regina Cougars - 15
7. *Lethbridge Pronghorns - 13
8. Manitoba Bisons - 13
NOTE: Coaches ranked all opponents 1-7. First-place votes worth 7 pts., second-place worth 6 pts. etc. * Lethbridge ranked 7th based on the greater number of higher placed votes.
ALBERTA GOLDEN BEARS PREVIEW
2018-19 CW regular season record: 24-3-1, 2nd in CW
2018-19 CW post-season record: 4-1, Canada West Champions (2nd University Cup)
Head coach: Ian Herbers (5th season) / 96-16-0 (career CW reg. season record)
Last CW championship / total CW championships: 2019 / 28
Last U SPORTS championship / total U SPORTS championships: 2018 / 16
2018-19 CW regular season ranks:
Offence: 134 goals, 1st
Defence: 55 goals against, 2nd
Power play: 29.2%, 1st
Penalty kill: 89.8%, 1st
2018-19 CW regular season leaders:
Goals: 21 – Luke Philp, F
Assists: 25 – Cole Sanford, F
Points: 45 – Luke Philp, F
Wins: 16 – Zach Sawchenko, G
Shutouts: 5 – Zach Sawchenko, G
Key additions (name / position / eligibility / hometown / last team):
Noah Philp / F / 1 / Canmore, AB / Seattle Thunderbirds
Nolan Volcan / F / 1 / Edmonton, AB / Seattle Thunderbirds
Dawson Davidson / D / 1 / Moosomin, SK / Saskatoon Blades
Josh Paterson / F / 1 / Edmonton, AB / Portland Winterhawks
Braydyn Chizen / D / 1 / St. Albert, AB / Brandon Wheat Kings
Matt Berlin / G / 1 / Edmonton, AB / Sherwood Park Crusaders
Key losses (name / position / hometown / years with program):
Jason Fram / D / Delta, BC / 3
Luke Philp / F / Canmore, AB / 3
Zach Sawchenko / G / Calgary, AB / 3
Riley Kieser / F / Edmonton, AB / 5
Stephane Legault / F / Edmonton, AB / 5
Graeme Craig / D / Red Deer, AB / 4
After a record-breaking recruit class, which saw 14 Western Hockey League graduates join the Golden Bears, the Bears once again enter the new season as title favourites.
The Bears have a handful of returning conference all-stars up front, and a talented returning defence core for this season. If the Bears plan on capturing a fourth-straight CW title, and 17th University Cup title, they will once again need strong goaltending.
After Canada West all-star and national champion Zach Sawchenko signed a pro deal after the 2019 season, the starting role will once again be given to Brendan Burke.
Burke struggled through injuries last season, but was outstanding in his first two seasons in green and gold. Between 2016 and 2018, Burke compiled a 19-5-1 record, along with four shutouts and a .927 save percentage.