(Release courtesy New England Hockey Conference)
MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) has released its annual Preseason Coaches' Poll for men's ice hockey. The poll is compiled based on rankings from the league's eight head coaches. Defending NCAA Division III National Champion, Norwich University, was selected to top the NEHC league standings this season, earning 58 total points and six first-place votes.
NEHC newcomer, Hobart College, was selected to finish second with 49 points and last year's league runner-up, New England College, came in at third place with 45 points and collected the other two first-place votes.
Babson College (42 points), University of Massachusetts Boston (37 points), Skidmore College (29 points), Castleton University (19 points) and University of Southern Maine (9 points) rounded out the remaining fourth through eighth spots in the poll respectively.
The reigning champion Norwich Cadets return three All-NEHC players including senior goaltender, Braeden Ostepchuk (Lethbridge, Alberta). Ostepchuk logged an undefeated season in net last season and was the winning goaltender in the thrilling national semifinal overtime victory over Adrian College. Also returning for the Cadets are third team all-NEHC selections Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.) and defenseman Alec Brandrup (Rochester, Minn.).
The 2017-18 season will mark the first season of NEHC play for Hobart College. The Statesmen won the ECAC Men's West title and qualified for the NCAA postseason via a Pool B bid. The program aims to return their high-octane offense, which averaged nearly 40 shots/gm and 4 goals/gm last season.
New England College will look to Carlos Fornais to build on his impressive freshman campaign where he ranked seventh in league scoring, posting 29 points on nine goals and 23 assists. The Pilgrims also return senior forward Bryce Nielsen and all-rooke selection Adam Zöllner who contributed 23 and 22 points respectively in 2017-18. After falling to NEC in overtime of the NEHC semifinals last season the Babson Beavers aim to return to the NEHC Championship game in 2018. The Beavers will play as many as 13 contests against programs that were either ranked or receiving votes in the USCHO.com and D3hockey.com national polls at the end of last season, beginning with their season opener against Salem State University.
UMass Boston will look to improve on last season's 12-11-3 overall record. The Beacons return last year's NEHC Player of the Year in Colin Larkin and rookie standout Nolan Redler who combined for 66 total points last season.
Skidmore brings nine freshmen to the ice for the 2018-19 campaign. The Thoroughbreds will look to senior defenseman Connor Pelkey and all-rookie goaltender Brandon Kasel to build on last year's success.
The Spartans of Castleton open their season with an exhibition tilt vs. Rhode Island before traveling to Wentworth Institute of Technology for a nonconference game. Castleton will aim to channel their impressive second half of the 2017-18 campaign, which saw the program notch an 8-2-4 record over that span.
Southern Maine returns their leading scorer from last in Brett Norman who posted 24 points on seven goals and 17 assists. The Huskies will travel to in-state rival, University of New England, to open their season with an exhibition game on October 27.
|Rank (1st Place Votes)||Pts.|
|1.||Norwich University (6)||58|
|3.||New England College (2)||45|
|8.||University of Southern Maine||9|