WAKEFIELD, Mass. — Providence finished first in the inaugural preseason coaches’ poll for the new Women’s Hockey East, garnering four first place votes.
The Friars return ten of their top 12 scorers, including five players with ten or more goals, to a squad that won the 2002 ECAC Eastern League Tournament. Six teams from last year’s ECAC Eastern now make up the WHEA.
Northeastern, which finished second in the ECAC East regular season last year, was picked to finish second by the coaches this season. Third-year coach Joy Woog will look to replace outgoing senior and 2002 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner Brooke Whitney, but still has plenty of offensive weapons left.
“We may need two or three players to score the points of [Whitney], but I think the incoming players are capable of that,” said Woog.
New Hampshire ranked third and received one first place vote. The Wildcats are looking to adjust to new head coach Brian McCloskey and make an impact in the WHEA.
“I’m really excited to play some games this year and see where we stand,” said McCloskey, who inherits a team that finished 19-13-5 last year.
Heather Linstad’s Connecticut Huskies were fourth in pre-season balloting. “This year, you’ll really start to see the result of our recruiting over the last two years,” said Linstad.
UConn has a remarkable 19 players that are first or second year players on this season’s roster.
Maine had 11 points and ranked fifth in voting, just behind UConn. Head coach Rick Filighera looks to make a move upward in the league standings with the return of a pair of 25 goal scorers in Meagan Aarts and Karen Droog, combined with the homecoming of absent Olympian Raffi Wolf, who played for Team Germany in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Boston College came in last in the pre-season poll, but the Eagles may very well be the best last place team of any women’s league in the country.
“Winning is all about attitude,” said fourth year coach Tom Babson. “This year we’re not going to be content to be within a goal or two of the top teams. We want to win those games.”