College Hockey America

Penn State Tops CHA Preseason Coaches' Poll, Mercyhurst's Upson Honored

Penn State Tops CHA Preseason Coaches' Poll, Mercyhurst's Upson Honored

Penn State received four out of five first-place votes, while Mercyhurst sophomore Vanessa Upson was tabbed as preseason player of the year.

Sep 14, 2022 by Todd Bell
Penn State Tops CHA Preseason Coaches' Poll, Mercyhurst's Upson Honored

The Penn State Nittany Lions top the College Hockey America preseason coaches’ poll released today by the CHA.

The Nittany Lions garnered four of four possible first-place votes in balloting among CHA head coaches (coaches could not vote for their own teams) for 20 points, four more than 2021-22 CHA champion Syracuse, which tallied 16 points and received the remaining first-place vote.

Mercyhurst finished third with 15 points, followed by Lindenwood with 10 and RIT with eight to round out the poll.

Jeff Kampersal’s Penn State squad captured its first CHA regular season crown in 2020-21 and finished the 2021-22 campaign in second place in the conference with an 8-3-3 record and an 18-10-5 overall mark. The Nittany Lions open this year’s campaign with a two-game non-conference home series against Wisconsin, Sept. 22-23.

Here's how the preseason voting broke down with first-place votes in parenthesis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams and points were handed out on a 5-4-3-2 scale:

1. Penn State (4) - 20 points

2. Syracuse (1) - 16 points

3. Mercyhurst - 15 points

4. Lindenwood - 10 points

5. RIT - 8 points

CHA Preseason Player of the Year

Mercyhurst sophomore Vanessa Upson, the 2021-22 CHA Rookie of the Year, is the coaches’ choice for CHA Preseason Player of the Year. The Stoney Creek, Ont., native had a spectacular rookie season as she not only led the CHA in points in conference play with 22 on 12 goals and 10 assists, but also finished the 2021-22 season as the nation’s freshman leader in points and goals scored with 39 and 19, respectively, and was also tied for first in assists with 20 over the course of her rookie campaign. Upson cemented her name in the CHA record books for efforts in her freshman season, as she is tied for eighth place on CHA’s all-time freshman goals list. Penn State’s Tessa Janecke and Kiara Zanon also received votes.

CHA Preseason Rookie of the Year

Forward Tessa Janecke of Penn State is the CHA Preseason Rookie of the Year. The Orangeville, Ill., native posted 122 points on 46 goals and 76 assists for the North American Hockey Academy last season. She won a silver medal at the 2022 U18 Women's World Championship and was named one of Team USA's three best players of the tournament. Janecke also competed for the United States as part of the 2022 Collegiate Select Team roster over the summer. Syracuse’s Rhéa Hicks also received a vote.

Preseason All-CHA Team

The Preseason All-CHA team includes Mercyhurst’s Vanessa Upson, Penn State’s Kiara Zanon and Syracuse’s Lauren Bellefontaine at forward. Upson was a six-time CHA weekly award honoree and a five-time CHA monthly award winner as a freshman. Zanon was the CHA’s co-points leader in 2021-22 with 40 on 13 goals and 27 assists. Bellefontaine is the CHA’s active career leader in points (79), assists (50) and games (127). Penn State’s Tessa Janecke, Mercyhurst’s Sara Boucher and Syracuse’s Sarah Marchand and Madison Primeau also received votes.

Penn State’s Mallory Uihlein, Syracuse’s Mae Batherson and Mercyhurst’s Sydney Pedersen are the choices for defensemen on this year’s team. Uihlein was a first-team All-CHA honoree last season, finishing as the Nittany Lions’ third-leading scorer with 19 points on six goals and 13 assists along with 33 blocks. Batherson handed out seven assists and blocked 39 shots for the Orange a season ago. Pedersen registered 56 blocks for the Lakers and finished with 17 points on two goals and 15 assists. Lindenwood’s Sena Takenaka and Penn State’s Izzy Heminger and Rene Gangarosa also received votes.

Penn State’s Josie Bothun and Mercyhurst’s Ena Nystrøm share the goaltender spot to round out the preseason All-CHA Team. Bothun posted a 1.52 goals against average for the Nittany Lions a season ago and boasts a career 1.59 mark, the second-lowest career GAA in CHA history. Nystrom finished second to Bothun with a 1.87 GAA in 2021-22. Syracuse’s Arielle DeSmet also received a vote in the balloting.