UMass-Lowell may not have ended the 2012-2013 season the way it wanted, but the Frozen Four semifinalists begin 2013-2014 on top.
The River Hawks were named the #1 team in the preseason USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine college hockey poll after receiving 20 of 34 first place votes. UMass-Lowell returns leading scorer Scott Wilson (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Hockey East All-Second team goaltender Connor Hellebuyck among others.
Just behind UMass-Lowell is Miami, its hawk cousin. The RedHawks, who were picked to win the NCHC in the conference's preseason poll, were just 40 points behind the River Hawks (443 vs. 483) and received 9 of the remaining 14 first-place votes. The other 5 first-place votes were split between defending national champion Yale (4) and Wisconsin (1).
Despite finishing last year first and receiving multiple first-place votes, the Bulldogs are ranked eighth to start off this year. Yale defeated three teams ranked higher - including UMass-Lowell - in the NCAA Tournament.
Wisconsin, Boston College and Minnesota round out the top five. The Badgers, who were named the Big Ten preseason favorite, and Gophers are two of three Big Ten teams in the USA Today Poll.
BC, meanwhile, is returning most of its core from last year, including Johnny Gaurdreau (Calgary Flames).
The full USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll:
|Rank||School||2012-13 Final Rank|
|1.||UMass Lowell, 484 (20)||3|
|2.||Miami, 444 (9)||6|
|3.||Wisconsin, 364 (1)||13|
|4.||Boston College, 359||8|
|6.||North Dakota, 300||7|
|7.||Notre Dame, 285||9|
|8.||Yale, 269 (4)||1|
|9.||St. Cloud State, 230||4|
|13.||New Hampshire, 116||11|
|14.||Minnesota State, 110||12|
Others receiving votes: Rensselaer, 80; Denver, 74; Cornell, 32; Western Michigan, 28; Niagara, 12; Merrimack, 8; Boston University, 4; Ferris State, 4; Michigan Tech, 1.
Broken down by conference:
Hockey East - 5
Big Ten - 3
NCHC - 3
ECAC - 3
WCHA - 1
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate