MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) has released its annual Preseason Coaches' Poll for women's ice hockey. The poll is compiled based on rankings from the league's 14 head coaches. NEHC regular season champions, Norwich University were selected to finish first, receiving seven first-place votes for a total of 181 points. NEHC Open Champions, College of the Holy Cross, followed with three first-place votes and 170 points while Saint Anselm College ranked third with 166 points. Reigning league champions, University of Massachusetts Boston, rounded out the top four receiving one first-place votes and 161 points.
Coming in fifth place was University New England (127 points) followed by Franklin Pierce University (118 points), Castleton University (116 points) and Manhattanville College (101 points) to round out the top eight.
Salve Regina University secured the ninth spot on the list with 95 total points, followed by Plymouth State University (66 points), New England College (61 points), University of Southern Maine (45 points), Saint Michael's College (36 points) and Nichols College (27 points).
The Cadets return last year's NEHC Rookie of the Year in Bryn Labbe (Calgary, Alta.) who led the team with 14 goals and tied for the program-lead in points with 21. Also returning are forwards Adelle Murphy (Roseau, Minn.) and Sarah Schwenzfeier (Hingham, Mass.) who contributed 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) and 20 points (11 goals, 9 assists) respectively. Céleste Robert (Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec) also returns in net for Norwich after notching eight shutouts last season and an impressive 1.15 goals against average.
Isabela Bagi (Branford, Conn.) is back for the Crusaders after leading the NEHC in defenseman scoring last season with 24 points. All-Rookie selection, Julie Matthias (Thornton, Colo.), will aim to build on her successful freshman campaign where she led the team with 17 goals and ranked fourth with 23 points.
2015-16 NEHC Player of the Year, Alex Starzyk (Enfield Conn.) returns to the ice for Saint Anselm after leading the league in point scoring (27), goal scoring (13) and power play points (13). The Hawks also return all-league defender Martha Findley who finished second in the conference in defenseman scoring.
Defending NEHC Tournament Champions, UMass Boston, will aim to build on the success of last season under second-year head coach Lindsay Berman (Northeastern University, 2011). The Beacons return starting goaltender and NEHC Tournament's Most-Valuable Player in Rachel Myette (Pembroke, Mass.) who compiled four shutouts and 1.67 goals against average last season.
The University of New England returns their three top scorers from last season in Gabby Crugnale (Malden, Mass.), Mary Wirth (South Elgin, Ill.) and Emily Corrales (West Hartford, Conn.). Franklin Pierce aims to improve on last season's 17-8-1 overall record as they open the season with NEHC rival, Saint Anselm on October 28.
The Spartans will have their hands full filling the skates of All-American goaltender, Jess Cameron, who graduated this spring. The team does return Aimee Briand (Barrington, N.H.) who scored an impressive 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) her freshman season. Kat Reilly (Holbrook, N.Y.) returns for the Valiants after notching 13 points last season on seven goals and six assists.
Team Captain Amanda Cronin (Medfield, Mass.) will aim to lead the way for Salve Regina after posting 17 points last season on nine goals and eight assists. Plymouth State will look to All-Rookie goaltender, Emelie Lindqvist (Gullerasen, Sweden) who compiled a .923 save percentage and four shutouts in her freshman campaign for the Panthers.
The Pilgrims start the 2016-17 season on the road against a formidable opponent in Oswego State while Southern Maine aims a return to the NEHC postseason after falling just short last season. Saint Michael's will aim to build on their impressive win against Division-I opponent, Sacred Heart University, in last year's Women's Open Tournament while Nichols aims to do the same as they open their season in upstate New York, taking on SUNY Buffalo State and Morrisville State College.
2016-17 NEHC Women's Ice Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Rank (1st Place Votes)||Pts.|
|1.||Norwich University (7)||181|
|2.||College of the Holy Cross (3)||170|
|3.||Saint Anselm College (3)||166|
|4.||UMass Boston (1)||161|
|5.||University of New England||127|
|6.||Franklin Pierce University||118|
|9.||Salve Regina University||95|
|10.||Plymouth State University||66|
|11.||New England College||61|
|12.||University of Southern Maine||45|
|13.||Saint Michael's College||36|