College Hockey:
Eagles Near-Unanimous Choice To Top Hockey East

— Last season’s NCAA runner-up, Boston College, was tabbed as the overwhelming favorite in the Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll, announced today at Boston’s FleetCenter during the league’s annual Media Day.

The Eagles, defending Hockey East tournament champions, received eight of nine possible first-place votes. League runner-up Maine was voted second and received the other first-place vote, while perennial powers New Hampshire and Boston University round out the top four.

Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna also announced the kickoff of the league’s 15th anniversary campaign. A special logo has been created to draw attention to the celebration, and several events have been planned in conjunction with it.

“We are going to highlight some of the great moments from our past while looking forward to a healthy and exciting future,” said Bertagna.

The league will sponsor a fan contest to select the Top 15 Moments in Hockey East History. A ballot will be created with three memorable moments from each season from 1984-85 through 1997-98, chosen by the league office, and late in the year a special panel of observers will cast ballots to include moments from the current season. In addition, one ballot will be chosen at random from the fan entries, with the lucky fan receiving a trip to Anaheim, Calif., for the 1999 NCAA Division I Ice Hockey Championships.

Hockey East also honored longtime Boston Globe sportswriter Joe Concannon with its seventh annual Media Award.

“Few people have covered as many college hockey games as Joe Concannon and fewer still have done so with such commitment and expertise,” said Bertagna in presenting the award. “As one whose own college hockey games were once chronicled by Joe, I feel particularly honored to make this presentation.”

Concannon has worked for the Globe since 1967.

Two league coaches were honored with special awards for achieving milestones during the 1997-98 campaign, a distinction Bertagna said will be conferred upon other coaches in the future as well. Boston University coach Jack Parker recorded his 200th Hockey East win last season, while New Hampshire coach Dick Umile posted his 100th league victory.

Bertagna also drew attention to two earlier announcements made over the summer. In late June, Hockey East announced the extension of its contract with the FleetCenter to showcase the league’s championship tournament at the Boston arena through 2001. And, the league’s honor for the least penalized team has been renamed the Charles E. Holt Team Sportsmanship Award, after the legendary former New Hampshire head coach.

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