The Boston College Eagles, winners of a league-best 10 regular-season titles, are again the pick of Hockey East coaches to top the standings this season, but if a split decision among the voters is any indication, the race may be wide-open.
New Hampshire actually earned the most first-place votes (four) among the conference’s 10 coaches, and was the only one of the five teams cluttered at the top of the preseason poll that did not lose a significant underclassman from its roster. Two coaches picked the Eagles, two picked the Maine Black Bears and two went for the Boston University Terriers.
Demonstrating the wide variance in opinions, even with its two first-place votes, BU had to settle for a predicted fifth-place finish.
No coach was confident enough in the veteran-laden Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks to pick them to finish first, but there was enough sentiment from the group to have them slotted in a tie for third with Maine. The last time the River Hawks finished as high as third was when they wound up second in 1995-96.
Fresh off a fourth-place finish in the ECACHL last year, new entry Vermont is considered strong enough to finish sixth in Hockey East this year. The poll rounds out with Massachusetts in seventh, Providence in eighth, a new-look Northeastern team in ninth and Merrimack 10th.
The Eagles have now been picked to finish first overall six times in the last eight seasons, and have claimed three straight first-place finishes in a row.
2005-06 Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Rk Team (1st) Pts
1. Boston College (2) 82
2. New Hampshire (4) 79
3. Maine (2) 71
3. Massachusetts-Lowell 71
5. Boston University (2) 67
6. Vermont 47
7. Massachusetts 42
8. Providence 33
9. Northeastern 30
10. Merrimack 18