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Big Ten Hockey: Minnesota voted preseason favorite by coaches

The Gophers have won the past three Big Ten regular season titles.

Justin Kloos alone (Matt Christians)
Minnesota captain Justin Kloos was one of four unanimous selections to the Big Ten Preseason Watch List.
Matt Christians/SBN College Hockey

Three-time defending conference champion Minnesota was tabbed by Big Ten coaches to win a fourth consecutive title.

The Gophers were named the preseason favorites in the coach’s poll released by the conference Monday.

Minnesota returns most of its core from a team that won the 2015-16 regular season title (its fifth consecutive spread across two conferences) with a 14-6-0-0 record before falling to Michigan in the Big Ten conference tournament championship. Senior captain Justin Kloos, who is the leading returning scorer among Big Ten players, and sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn are two of the four unanimous choices on the 13 player Big Ten Preseason Watch List.

Ohio State was selected second ahead of the conference’s lone NCAA Tournament representative Michigan. The Buckeyes, fourth place a season ago, had three players - Josh Healey, Mason Jobst and Nick Schilkey - named to the Watch List. Michigan, meanwhile, is represented by senior Alex Kile.

Penn State finished fourth ahead of Wisconsin and Michigan State. Nittany Lions defenseman Vince Pedrie and Badgers sophomore forward Luke Kunin are the other two unanimous selections.

The regular season kicks off October 6th when Penn State hosts St. Lawrence. Big Ten conference play begins December 1st.

Big Ten Preseason Watch List (bold means unanimous selection)

Alex Kile, F, Michigan

Mason Appleton, F, Michigan State

Jake Bischoff, D, Minnesota

Leon Bristedt, F, Minnesota

Justin Kloos, F, Minnesota

Eric Schierhorn, G, Minnesota

Josh Healey, D, Ohio State

Mason Jobst, F, Ohio State

Nick Schilkey, F, Ohio State

David Goodwin, F, Penn State

Vince Pedrie, D, Penn State

Luke Kunin, F, Wisconsin

Grant Besse, F, Wisconsin

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --