UNH Women Favored in Hockey East Preseason Poll

BOSTON — Commissioner Joe Bertagna of the Hockey East Association announced the preseason women’s coaches poll on Tuesday afternoon at the conference’s annual media day held in Banners Restaurant at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.

The New Hampshire Wildcats, who have won the last two Hockey East regular-season and tournament championships, earned six of a possible eight first place votes in the preseason selection with 55 total points led by three-time Hockey East Coach of the Year Brian McCloskey. UNH will return first-team all-stars Martine Garland and Sam Faber along with second-team blueliner Kacey Bellamy, while the ‘Cats will be looking to replace four-year starter and four-time goaltending Hockey East goaltending champion Melissa Bourdon. The ‘Cats have won four of the six regular-season titles in the conferences history. The Eagles of Boston College were right behind the Wildcats with two first place tallies and 51 points led by first year head coach and alum Katie King. The Eagles will have back the trio of Hockey East Player of the Year Kelli Stack with First-Team All-Star Allie Thunstrom and Becky Zavisza all of whom recorded more than 40 points last season and ranked first, second and fourth in league scoring respectively. The Eagles also return Hockey East Second-Team netminder Molly Schaus.

The UConn Huskies enter the season picked as the third best team in the league with 41 total points. UConn under the guidance of Heather Linstad will rely on junior Brittany Wilson, who was the goaltender on the Hockey East All-Conference First-Team last season, while the Huskies also bring back senior Jaclyn Hawkins, who was a Second-Team Hockey East All-Star on defense in 06-07. The Huskies will look to return to the Hockey East playoffs for the first time since 2005, which also included an appearance in the Hockey East Championship game that same season against the Friars.

An up and coming Boston University Terriers squad guided by third-year head coach Brian Durocher placed fourth according to the voters with 38 total points. The Providence College Friars were picked fifth standings with 35 points, after a great showing in the Hockey East title game against UNH. The Terriers return six of their top seven scorers, which includes their top two scorers in Melissa Anderson (34 pts.) and Erin Seman (31).

The Northeastern Huskies posted 25 points in the poll in the sixth spot, while Vermont (20) and Maine (16) round out this seasons women’s preseason poll.

The regular season will determine the four teams that qualify for the Hockey East Championship Tournament, which begins on Saturday, March 8 with two semifinal games at 12 and 3 :30 p.m. at Freitas Ice Forum on the campus of the University of Connecticut. On Sunday, March 9 the two advancing teams will play for the sixth annual WHEA Championship.

The Hockey East Association is an eight-team, Division-I college hockey conference which began play in 2002-2003, with offices based in Wakefield, Mass. The league also sponsors an 10-team men’s league which began play in 1984-1985.

2007-08 Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll

(first-place votes in parentheses)

1. New Hampshire (6) 55
2. Boston College (2) 51
3. Connecticut 41
4. Boston University 38
5. Providence 35
6. Northeastern 24
7. Vermont 20
8. Maine 16