The preseason USCHO poll was released on Monday, in advance of this weekend’s (!) exhibition men’s hockey games.
Boston College was ranked #13 - fourth among Hockey East schools behind Boston University (#2), UMass-Lowell (#5), and Providence (#11). Northeastern was the other league team to make the rankings at #20. Vermont and UNH were in the also receiving votes category.
Denver was a near-unanimous #1. The Pioneers return the bulk of their team that dominated the 2016-17 season, and also add to it an outstanding freshman class.
As for the Eagles, much like last year, there is some doubt among some of the pundits and the Twittersphere as to whether they can compete after losing so much talent in the offseason. That said, you heard the same questions last season, and BC wound up tied on points at the end of the season with The Greatest Hockey Team Ever Assembled (TM) and came within a drilled post (I can still hear the ping) of taking the Hockey East championship game to overtime.
Obviously, BC’s goal every year is to win the biggest trophies available to them - not just to be in the tournament mix. So they’ll aiming to improve on last year’s results. But the season was nonetheless a good reminder to not sleep on Jerry York’s teams regardless of the offseason forecast.
Though the Eagles have a young offense this year that lacks an obvious go-to star on day one, BC’s defense and goaltending are likely to be among the best in the league.
A veteran defense corps led by Casey Fitzgerald and Michael Kim should be bolstered by fifth-year transfer from Michigan Kevin Lohan, as long as he is able to stay healthy and blend seamlessly. Highly touted freshman blueliner Michael Karow will also add depth to BC’s D.
The USCHO poll itself should be taken with a grain of salt as the results are always heavily skewed toward a) what happened last year and b) big names. And unlike college football, the opinions of pollsters or pundits don't really count for anything in hockey. But having the poll out is a good frame for conversation and expectation-setting as we await the first puck drop of the season.
That first puck drop, by the way, comes on Saturday night at 7 PM. BC takes on Canada’s perennial powerhouse, the University of New Brunswick, at the Bruins practice facility in Brighton.