Jake Sanderson came into the University of North Dakota hockey program as a highly-touted freshman prospect.
The 2020 first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators will face even higher expectations as a sophomore.
The Whitefish, Mont., native was one of seven players voted to the 2021-22 National Collegiate Hockey Conference preseason all-conference team, which was announced on Tuesday.
Sanderson is one of three defensemen named to the preseason all-conference squad, along with Ronnie Attard of Western Michigan and Nick Perbix of St. Cloud State.
As a freshmen, Sanderson had a strong rookie season on the blue line. He scored two goals and 13 assists for 15 points in 22 games and led North Dakota defensemen with a plus-20 rating. He was whistled for only one penalty all season.
He was at his best late in the season and the postseason, when Sanderson scored eight points in his final nine games, including four consecutive postseason games.
He missed seven games at midseason while helping the U.S. win a gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championships.
Sanderson scored three assists in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, making him the lone freshman to earn all-tournament designation as North Dakota became the first team in history to win both the Penrose Cup as league regular-season champions and the Frozen Faceoff tournament title.
He scored a goal in UND’s NCAA regional tournament victory over American International and tallied a game-high eight shots on goal in the five-overtime regional final loss to Minnesota-Duluth.
Sanderson, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, will serve as an alternate captain for North Dakota this season. He joined UND after playing for the U.S. Under-18 National Development Team Program.
The 21st first-round NHL draft pick in North Dakota history, he is the highest-drafted player in NCHC history.
Forwards Veeti Miettinen of St. Cloud State, Noah Cates of Minnesota-Duluth and Chayse Primeau of Nebraska-Omaha and goaltender Ludvig Persson of Miami rounded out the NCHC preseason all-conference list.
UND has an exhibition game against Bemidji State Oct. 2 in Grand Forks. The regular season is opener Oct. against Niagara at Engelstad Arena.