Vermont is the preseason number one team in the 1996-97 ECAC men’s ice hockey coaches poll, according to USA Today.
Vermont returns virtually the same lineup that led it to a 27-7-4 record last season and a berth in the NCAA semifinals against Colorado College. The Catamounts received 11 of a possible 12 first place votes from the coaches.
Among the key returners for the Catamounts are forwards Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin, and goalie Tim Thomas. All three are considered solid candidates for the Hobey Baker Award this season.
Clarkson, who finished second last season with a 25-10-3 record, was voted second, while Harvard (one first place vote) is the preseason No. 3 team. St. Lawrence and Colgate round out the top 5.
Cornell, Rensselaer, Brown and Princeton will battle for the middle spots and Dartmouth, Union and Yale will fight to move out of the bottom, according to the ECAC coaches.