WAKEFIELD, Mass. – The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team, which has finished first or second in the Hockey East regular-season standings all eight years of the league's existence, was picked fourth in the 2010-11 WHEA Preseason Coaches Poll that was released Monday.
UNH, under the guidance of ninth-year head coach Brian McCloskey, received a total of 35 points to place behind 2010 Hockey East tournament champion Boston University (55 points; six first-place votes), Boston College (49; two) and Providence College (42). The Wildcats were selected atop the league's preseason poll each of the previous six seasons.
Northeastern University (34) and the University of Connecticut (31) followed closely behind UNH. The University of Vermont (20) and University of Maine (14) complete the poll.
New Hampshire returns 17 letterwinners, including senior captains Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) and Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Mass.), from last year's team advanced to the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive year and finished with an overall record of 19-9-5.
The ninth season of WHEA action begins Sept. 24 when Maine plays host to Sacred Heart University. Conference play commences one week later when UNH travels to UConn on Oct. 2.
The top six teams in the final regular-season standings advance to the Hockey East Championship Tournament. The third and fourth seeds of the tourney will be the sites of quarterfinal games on Feb. 26. The advancing teams will then be reseeded and join the top two seeds at the site of the No. 1 seed for the March 5 semifinals. The March 6 championship game will be televised by NESN.
The Women's Hockey East Association is an eight-team, Division I college hockey conference that began play in the 2002-03 season.
New Hampshire opens the 2010-11 season with the aforementioned road game Oct. 2 vs. UConn. The Wildcats' home opener is Oct. 22 (7 p.m.) against Clarkson University. Tickets for all UNH women's hockey home games are available by calling 1-800-745-3000, by visiting the Whittemore Center Box Office or by clicking here.
2010-11 WHEA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
- Boston U. (6) 55
- Boston College (2) 49
- Providence 42
- UNH 35
- Northeastern 34
- Connecticut 31
- Vermont 20
- Maine 14