The Providence Friars were tabbed by Hockey East coaches as the favorite to capture the league’s regular season crown, despite not receiving a single first-place vote.
Four different teams received at least one vote for first, led by Maine with four. Boston College received three votes for first, while Boston University and New Hampshire received one each.
None of the nine coaches chose the Friars, who nonetheless came in first in the overall tally, edging out second-place Maine by a single point in a close race.
It is the first time that Providence has ranked first in the preseason balloting and the first time that the first-place pick has not received a single vote for first.
Providence returns six 25-point scorers, including the league’s top returning point-getter, Devin Rask, after the Friars finished second in the regular season and the conference tournament last season.
Defending NCAA champion Boston College, which lost eight seniors as well as underclassmen Chuck Kobasew, Krys Kolanos, and Brooks Orpik, was chosen third. New Hampshire ranked fourth and Boston University fifth.
Only 14 points separated the first-place Friars from the fifth-place Terriers.
UMass Lowell, Northeastern, Merrimack, and UMass Amherst rounded out the poll.