MINNEAPOLIS — Cornell ascended to the top of the college hockey heap, garnering 25 first-place votes and 583 points in this week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, the last poll of the 2002-2003 season.
The Big Red finished first in the ECAC regular season and the postseason tournament, and was rewarded for a 28-4-1 season with the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, announced Sunday. On Saturday, Cornell will face off with No. 11 MSU-Mankato, which dropped two spots after a fourth-place finish at the WCHA Final Five.
Finishing second in the poll is Colorado College, which earned 12 first-place votes after coming in second in the WCHA tournament. The Tigers earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAAs, and will face off with CHA champion Wayne State. This is the first year that the CHA has received an automatic bid.
New Hampshire finishes the season at No. 3 in the poll, and the Wildcats open up the Northeast Regional in Worcester with a game against No. 15 St. Cloud State on Friday. St. Cloud lost to Minn.-Duluth in the WCHA tournament.
No. 4 Minnesota is hosting the West Regional, to be held in Minneapolis, and the Gophers will play MAAC champion Mercyhurst. It was two years ago that unranked Mercyhurst, making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, put a scare into host Michigan before falling, 4-3 in regulation.
CCHA runner-up Ferris State ended up at No. 5 in the poll, and the surprising Bulldogs make their first trip to the NCAAs, playing No. 12 North Dakota in Minneapolis. No. 6 Boston University hosts the regional in Worcester, and will play No. 10 Harvard Friday. The Terriers are 2-0 against the Crimson this year.
Michigan, which hosts the Midwest Regional, finished at No. 7 and will play against No. 9 Maine at Yost Arena. The Black Bears and Michigan have played some memorable hockey in the NCAA Tournament, including a 1995 triple overtime game, 4-3, in the semifinals that sent Maine to the title game.
Boston College is No. 8 and will lace up against No. 13 Ohio State in Providence, the winner going on to play the winner of the Cornell vs. MSU-Mankato game.
No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth finished with a flourish to the season, toppling No. 15 St. Cloud, No. 12 North Dakota, and No. 11 MSU-Mankato on route to a third-place finish at the WCHA Final Five. The Bulldogs had too much ground to make up after a poor start to the season, and were not selected for the tournament.
The USCHO.com Poll is compiled by U.S. College Hockey Online, and consists of 40 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 12 beat writers from across the country. The poll is published weekly by the Associated Press.