Thursday, September 29, 2011

High hopes

Whenever pre-season polls are announced, most coaches will reflexively point out that these rankings are just talking points until on-ice action begins. However, what this week's national and conference polls do reveal is that college hockey coaches and media expect BU to be among college hockey’s elite programs this season.

USCHO’s first national poll—comprised of coaches from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports professionals from across the country— ranks the Terriers #10 with two first-place votes. Meanwhile, the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, ranks BU sixth with three first-place votes. This poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six Division I conferences, plus composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine. Notre Dame has the top spot in the USCHO poll, while Miami is ranked #1 by USA Today.

The Daily Free Press reports that juniors Alex Chiasson and Justin Courtnall will be the Terriers’ assistant captains this season. Senior Chris Connolly, a co-captain last season, is this year's team captain.

The Boston Hockey Blog reports that the injury bug has again struck two Terriers who lost time to injuries in previous season. Red-shirt freshman Yasin Cissé, recovering from knee surgery, suffered a concussion in practice; a lingering ankle injury from his junior days in Des Moines is also limiting his ice time.

Ryan Ruikka, who suffered season-ending injuries in his first two seasons, but rebounded to become a solid blueliner last year, has hairline fracture of his right foot and will be out for at least three weeks.

USCHO also has posted pre-season rankings of the nation's top college players by position. Senior Kieran Millan is listed at #6 among goalies, while sophomore Adam Clendening was picked as the #8 defenseman.

Tuesday was Hockey East Media Day, which included release of the preseason coaches' poll. The Terriers were ranked #2 behind defending champion BC. The Hockey East Writers & Broadcasters' poll, released a day earlier, reversed those rankings, with BU ranked first with 16 of 19 first-place votes and BC second. The writers and broadcasters preseason all-conference team included Chiasson.

● Go coverage
● Hockey East Coaches’ video interviews (Jack Parker begins at 2:20)
Video Interview with Millan
● 2011-12 men’s hockey prospectus

Hockey East also announced a schedule of eight games that will air on CBS College Sports including four featuring the Terriers: two against BC and another pair against Maine. Additional televised games will be announced at a later date.

►In the wake of the realignment of college hockey's Western conferences this summer, expansion of Hockey East in 2013-14 has become a genuine possibility. Notre Dame reportedly will decide shortly whether to accept an invitation to join Hockey East or to become part of the new NCHC. College Hockey News editor Adam Wodon offers insights into the decision facing the Fighting Irish, while Warrior Rink Rat's Mike McMahon spoke with Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna about expansion. If Hockey East expands, it will add two teams. Rensselaer, which previously considered moving over from the ECAC, is a likely candidate for another invitation.

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