The Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association released their 2014-2015 preseason media poll results on Sunday, surveying national, league-wide and team-specific members of the print, broadcast and online media. The poll ranked BC #2 in Hockey East, with the Eagles garnering 8 of 36 first place votes.
Providence College was the overwhelming choice to win the league this season, with 26 total first place votes. The Friars are coming off of a run to the NCAA Quarterfinals in 2014, where their season was ended by eventual national champion Union. Providence returns two players voted in the media's Hockey East preseason first team - senior forward Ross Mauermann, and highly touted junior goaltender Jon Gillies.
I voted for Providence to finish in first place, though I am not totally sold on them as NCAA title contenders quite yet. Their dominant 4-0 win over Quinnipiac in the first round of the tournament last year generated much of the buzz surrounding PC in the offseason, but the win came after a fairly inconsistent conclusion to the season that included fading from the top of the pairwise at Christmas to finishing in the #10 spot, and getting knocked out of the Hockey East tournament in the semifinals by New Hampshire.
That said, they have the strongest returning cast of any of last year's contenders, and have an outstanding coach in Nate Leaman who has PC reloading every year and gearing up for a potential run to the Frozen Four. While there are other teams in the league that may have higher ceilings, PC should be strong from start to finish,which is why I voted for them to finish in the #1 spot.
BC seemed to be the consensus #2 choice for most voters (including me), and this is largely a vote of confidence for the freshman class, who will be counted on to replace BC's vast amounts of lost scoring. Unlike Lowell and Notre Dame, who also lost a ton to graduation and early departures, the Eagles were not punished by pollsters.
BU finished #3 in the poll, with two first place votes, presumably from folks who have read the Gospel of Jesus ChrEichel, which proclaims that he shall lead BU in scoring, deliver them into the NCAA tournament, and ascend body and soul into the NHL at the end of the season. We'll see.
On my own ballot, I put Northeastern in third place, followed by Lowell, and then BU in 5th.. While Northeastern built a lot of their early success last year on Clay Witt's unsustainable save percentage, they bring back a lot of talented forwards and have a well-regarded recruiting class. Most of my picks largely tracked the final result, though I did pick UConn to surprise people and finish in 10th.
Full poll results:
1. Providence (26) 414
2. Boston College (8) 399
3. Boston University (2) 309
4. Northeastern 305
5. Massachusetts-Lowell 267
6. Maine 256
7. (tie) Notre Dame 231
7. (tie) Vermont 231
9. New Hampshire 171
10. Merrimack 97
11. Massachusetts 80
12. Connecticut 48
Hockey East First Team
F Ross Mauermann (Sr., Providence)
F Kevin Roy (Jr., Northeastern)
F Devin Shore (Jr., Maine)
D Ben Hutton (Jr., Maine)
D Michael Matheson (Jr., Boston College)
G Jon Gillies (Jr., Providence)