Year two of the Big Ten sponsoring men's hockey appears to have a strong choice at the top with Minnesota and Michigan a strong 1-2 in the SB Nation College Hockey preseason poll released Tuesday (September 23, 2014).
The fight from the basement to the top of the hill, though, is much, much closer.
The poll, comprised of writers, radio and television personalities from all six Big Ten schools mixed with national voices covering the entire conference, had voters rank their choices. Six points were given for a first place vote, five for a second place vote and so on until one point was given for a sixth place vote.
The Gophers were a unanimous selection to win its second consecutive Big Ten title, receiving all 17 first place votes. leans towards a combination of and returning players. Head coach Don Lucia's team returns five of the top six forwards that came within one game of the program's sixth national championship, falling to Union 7-4, alongside 2013-14 Big Ten defensive player of year Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets) and 2013-14 Big Ten player of the year, junior goalie Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Michigan, meanwhile, received 16 of 17 second-place votes. The Wolverines bring in one of the top recruiting classes led by 2014 first round draft pick Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings), Leading scorer JT Compher (Buffalo Sabres) returns for his sophomore season as does goalie Zach Nagelvoort (Edmonton Oilers). Junior forward Andrew Copp (Winnipeg Jets) captains the team, which will be looking to end a two year NCAA Tournament drought in 2014-15.
Defending Big Ten conference tournament champion Wisconsin finished third while Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State round out the order.
Voters were more undecided with the order for each of the remaining four schools. All four received at least one third, fourth and fifth place vote. All but the Badgers, who lost eleven players from last season to graduation or early departures, received a sixth place vote.
The complete poll:
|Place||School (1st Votes)||Total|