MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) has released its annual Preseason Coaches' Poll for men's ice hockey. The poll is compiled based on rankings from the league's nine head coaches. Reigning league champions, University of Massachusetts Boston were selected to defend their title receiving four first-place votes for a total of 74 points. Perennial conference powers, Norwich University (70 points) and Babson College (69 points) were selected to finish second and third place receiving two and three first place votes respectively.
Skidmore College came in fourth place with 50 total points while New England College followed closely in fifth with 47 points. With 37 points Saint Anselm College secured sixth place and Castleton University came in at seventh place (28 points). University of Southern Maine and Saint Michael's College rounded out the poll with 18 and 12 points respectively.
UMass Boston, coming off the program's first NCAA Frozen Four appearance in school history, returns several key contributors from last year's lineup. First-Team NEHC selections Colin Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) and Tyler Bishop (Ramsey, N.J.) combined for 60 points last season on 21 goals and 39 assists. The Beacons also return All-Rookie Team selections, Garrison Sanipass (Northbrook, Ill.) and Gabe Chuckran (Media, Pa.), who will both look to build on successful freshman campaigns.
After falling to Babson in the NEHC semifinals, The Cadets are eyeing a return to the league Championship game. Norwich will look to team captain, Tyler Piacentini (South Weymouth, Mass.) and assistant captain, William Pelletier (St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec) to anchor the offense. Piacentini led the team in assists last season with fifteen while Pelletier ranked fourth in points (18) despite only appearing in nine games. The Cadets also return Kevin Salvucci (Plymouth, Mass.), an NEHC Honorable Mention All-Conference selection, who led the team in goals (16) and points (26) last season.
Babson College returns last year's team point leader (23) in Tim Searles (Chesapeake, Va.) to anchor the offense. The team will also look to sophomore Matt Brazel (Hingham, Mass.) to build on his freshman campaign that saw the forward rack up 19 total points on eight goals and 11 assists. The Beavers will be tasked with replacing two-time NEHC Player of the Year in Jamie Murray at goaltender. Sophomore Matt Pompa (Palm City, Fla.) showed he was up to the challenge last year after appearing in six games and compiling a 5-1 record, including two shutouts, in net for the Beavers.
The NEHC Coaches agree the Thoroughbreds are the team to watch this season. Second-year Head Coach, Rob Hutchison (Skidmore, '07), aims to build on last year's 5-10-3-conference record. Forwards Marc Cibelli (Liverpool, N.Y.) and Anthony Bird (Central Square, N.Y.) return for their senior seasons. The dynamic duo aim to build on last year's offensive contributions, each posting 30 total points. The team also returns starting goaltender in Jack McDonald (King City, Ontario) who compiled an impressive 2.74 goals against average in conference play last season.
New England College returns three of their top four offensive contributors in Bryce Nielsen (Laguna Hills, Calif.), Connor Fries (Barnstable, Mass.) and Andreas Zollner (Varnamo, Sweden) to the lineup this season. Second Team All-Conference goaltender Brett Kilar (Coto de Caza, Calif.) returns for his senior campaign as the Pilgrims aim to improve on last season's 11-9-6 overall record.
Saint Anselm (12-11-3) will look to Honorable Mention All-Conference defender, Peter Sikalis (Acton, Mass.) to anchor the Hawks' defense while first year Head Coach, Bill Silengo, aims to improve on Castleton's 8-16-2 overall record.
Southern Maine (8-17-1) will look to build on last year's five conference wins, including an overtime thriller at Skidmore. Saint Michael's (6-18-0) returns Second Team All-Conference defenseman in Danny Divis who led the team in assists (12) last season.
2016-17 NEHC Men's Ice Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Rank (1st Place Votes)||Pts.|
|1.||UMass Boston (4)||74|
|2.||Norwich University (2)||70|
|3.||Babson College (3)||69|
|5.||New England College||47|
|6.||Saint Anselm College||37|
|8.||University of Southern Maine||18|
|9.||Saint Michael's College||12|