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WCHA Predictions: #11 - Bemidji State Beavers

A week ago I took part in the 3rd Annual WCHA Blogger & Website Preseason Poll as one of 18 participants and thought it would be a good idea to break down my own picks for the final year of the conference as we know it going from 12 to 1. Coming in at 11th is Bemidji State, who finished ninth in the league last season.

In 2009 Bemidji State shocked the college hockey world by making it to the Frozen Four as a fourth seed team from the (now defunct) CHA. The Beavers haven't replicated that yet since joining the WCHA and with major losses to replace this year, it will take another magical run to pull that off.

The last remaining remnants of the Frozen Four team, including Shea Walters (26 points last season), Ben Kinne (22 points) and top scoring defenseman in program history Brad Hunt, have departed and will need to be replaced. Leading scorer Jordan George (31 points) does return along with fifth-year senior captain Ben Kinne but others like freshmen Phil Brewer and sophomore Danny Matson will have to play major minutes to replace those who left up front.

Bemidji also needs to find a new goalie with three-year starter Dan Bakala graduating. Sophomore Andrew Walsh appears to have the upper hand over senior Mathieu Dugas after starting 11 games last season but Bakala, who kept the Beavers in many games last year, is tough to replace.

With all the holes and departures, it's hard to place Bemidji State higher than eleventh.

Agree with the picks? Disagree? Sound off below.

For more University of Minnesota coverage, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also read up on the WCHA and college hockey at Western College Hockey and SB Nation's NHL hub.

You can follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.