March 8, 2012
MADISON, Wis. -- Junior defenseman Justin Schultz became the third player in Western Collegiate Hockey Association history to win two WCHA Defensive Player of the Year awards, the league announced on Thursday. Schultz, also named a 2012 First-Team All-WCHA defenseman, and sophomore forward Mark Zengerle, a 2012 Third-Team All-WCHA pick, were two of nine Wisconsin players honored by the league this year.
For the second straight season, the league's 12 head coaches voted University of Wisconsin blueliner Justin Schultz as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year. This is only the third time in the history of the award that started in 1991 that a player has won it twice. Colorado College defenseman Eric Rud won the award in both 1995-96 and 1996-97 while Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold earned the honor in both 2000-01 and 2001-02.
From West Kelowna, British Columbia, and a first team All-American honoree and Hobey Baker Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist as a sophomore, Schultz also earned All-WCHA First Team honors for the second straight season and he is the third straight Wisconsin player to earn the league's defensive player of the year award (Brendan Smith in 2009-10).
The nation's, and the WCHA's, top point-producing defenseman, Schultz is averaging 1.24 points per game through 34 games this season (15-27=42) and if he stays on top of the UW's current goal-scoring list for 2011-12, he'll become the first defenseman in school history to lead the team in goal scoring. A draftee of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks, he logs 30-35 minutes of ice time per game, leads the Badgers with a +11 plus/minus rating, and has produced almost a point per game over his 118-game collegiate career, with 39 goals, 72 assists and 111 points. Schultz was the league's defensive player of the week on both Nov. 29 and Jan. 24.
Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.), who ranks fourth in the nation with 49 points and shares the national lead with 37 assists, earned his first year-end league honor. The reigning WCHA Offensive Player of the Week finished in a tie for fifth in the league scoring race in WCHA games with 36 points, one point shy of second.
Zengerle was one of eight Badgers named to the 2012 Academic All-WCHA team. The group also includes junior forward Ryan Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.), junior goaltender Mitch Thompson (Onalaska, Wis.), sophomore forwards Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) and Gavin Hartzog (Pewaukee, Wis.), as well as sophomore defensemen Chase Drake (Mosinee, Wis.), Joe Faust (Bloomington, Minn.) and Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.).
The eight all-academic student-athletes for the Badgers ties them with the 1999-00 conference champion squad's mark of eight league all-academic players for the most in program history.
Voting for the WCHA awards is done by conference member coaches, players, sports information directors and local media. Each team receives eight ballots for a total of 96 voters. Points for awards and all-league teams are awarded on a 5 (1st team vote), 3 (2nd team), and 1 (3rd team vote) basis.
The WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year award is selected by member team Faculty Athletic Representatives, while the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year is selected by the league's 12 head coaches.
To earn recognition as a member of the All-WCHA Academic Team, member team student-athletes must meet the following criteria: 1) have completed one year of residency at present institution, prior to the current academic year; and 2) have a grade point average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) for the previous two semesters or three quarters.