Minnesota-Duluth, last year’s national champion, finished first in pre-season balloting for the USCHO.com Division I Women’s Poll. The Bulldogs will be led this year by returning Olympian Jenny Potter, and will look to become the first women’s hockey team to win three consecutive NCAA titles this spring, when Duluth hosts the finals in March.
The only other team to garner a first place vote was sister-school Minnesota, based out of the Twin Cities. Following a year that saw the Gophers surpass expectations, Minnesota will surprise no one this year, finishing second in the poll. Two Olympians, Krissy Wendell and Natalie Darwitz, join the squad as freshmen.
Finishing third is Harvard, which was recently named first in the ECAC pre-season coaches poll. Canadian Gold medalist and Patty Kazmaier-winner Jennifer Botterill returns as a senior, and is joined by U.S. Olympians Angela Ruggiero and Julie Chu.
Ivy League schools captured four of the top ten spots, as fourth-place Dartmouth, fifth-place Brown and tenth-place Princeton, joined Harvard. Other schools in the top ten were WCHA member Wisconsin, and St. Lawrence of the ECAC. New league Hockey East had two representatives with Providence at eighth and Northeastern at ninth. The Huskies will look to replace the scoring punch of last year’s Patty Kazmaier winner, Brooke Whitney, who was lost to graduation.