Niagara, coming off a third-place finish at last year’s NCAA Championship, and Mercyhurst were selected as co-favorites in the first-ever CHA Women’s preseason coaches poll.
Both teams received two first-place and one second-place vote (coaches did not vote on their own team) for eight points. Findlay and Wayne State tied for third with four points each.
Niagara finished the 2001-02 campaign with a 26-8-2 record but lost 10 players to graduation.
Mercyhurst won regular-season titles in the Great Lakes Women’s Hockey Association the last two seasons and was 24-8-1 a year ago.
Findlay, 8-24-2 last season, and Wayne State, 6-23-2 a year ago, have already started their 2002-03 campaigns with exhibition games. Both teams faced Windsor at home over the weekend. The Oilers were 9-4 winners Saturday night while the Warriors downed the Lancers 6-1 Sunday afternoon.
Mercyhurst gets underway this weekend, hosting Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday nights.