The puck has yet to drop on the 2014-15 NCAA men’s ice hockey season, but that hasn’t stopped both the Hockey East coaches and media from giving their rulings on who will emerge at the top of the conference standings this year.
The league announced its preseason coaches’ poll Monday during Hockey East Media Day at TD Garden, with Providence College earning the top ranking with 127 points while also collecting seven of a possible 12 first-place votes. Boston University, looking to rebound after a disappointing 10-21-4 campaign in 2013-14, took the sixth spot in the poll with 83 total points.
Boston College ranked second with 120 points and three first-place votes, with fourth-ranked Northeastern University (90 points) and seventh-ranked University of Massachusetts-Lowell splitting the final two first-place selections. The University of Connecticut – the newest member of Hockey East – ranked last with just 26 points.
The results mark the first time since 2001 that neither Boston University nor Boston College claimed the top spot in the coaches’ poll.
While the Terriers were not selected as one of the conference’s premier contenders to open the season, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues noted that BU is not taking too much stock in preseason rulings.
“Hockey East is one of the best leagues in the country, and it’s always competitive,” said senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues. “Polls are polls, people have their opinions and it’s just our job to go out there and play our best every time we hit the ice, and the standings and everything will take care of itself.”
The coaches’ poll differed in multiple aspects from the Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association’s preseason media poll, which was released Sunday. While the Friars and Eagles once again claimed the first and second spots, respectively, on the list, the Terriers were slated to finish third with 309 total points – including two first-place votes.
The media poll also included its Preseason All-Hockey East Team, which was comprised of one senior and four juniors. Providence’s Ross Mauermann, the University of Maine’s Devin Shore and Northeastern University’s Kevin Roy accounted for the grouping of forwards, while Maine’s Ben Hutton and Boston College’s Michael Matheson were chosen as the top defensemen in the conference. Providence goaltender Jon Gillies rounded out the team as the media’s pick in net.
While BU head coach David Quinn acknowledged the pedigree of teams like Boston College and Providence going into the 2014-15 campaign, he also acknowledged that – as history has shown over the past few seasons – a lot can happen over the stretch of a six-month season.
“Obviously, Providence and Boston College are the top two teams and rightfully so, but if you go through the history of the preseason polls and you match it up to where the season ends, there’s always a lot of surprises, because it’s just so hard to predict when you’re coaching players between the ages of 18 to 22,” Quinn said. “The name on the back of the jersey might be the same, but the guy in it’s a little bit different every year.
“Hopefully, our guys change for the better, and I think they did, and hopefully, we get off to a good start.”