COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Five National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams secured rankings in the 2019-20 USCHO.com Preseason Poll ahead of opening weekend this Saturday. Minnesota Duluth commences 2019-20 play exactly where they ended last year, as top dog in both national polls. In the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Preseason Poll, the national champions are joined by three fellow NCHC programs, including Denver at No. 2 in both rankings. Both national polls are released on Mondays throughout the season.
Minnesota Duluth completed the 2018-19 season with a second consecutive national championship title under their belts, a second NCHC Frozen Faceoff trophy and a 29-11-2 season record. The Bulldogs earned 996 points and 49 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO.com Poll. USA Hockey Magazine voters also ranked the national champions No. 1 in their preseason poll with 508 points and 32 of 34 first-place votes. UMD concluded last season downing Providence in the NCAA Frozen Four, 4-1, to advance to its third straight NCAA championship game, before silencing the UMass Minutemen 3-0 to complete the back-to-back feat. UMD opens the 2019-20 season on Saturday, Oct. 5 with an exhibition game against Alberta, before starting regular-season play against UMass Lowell on Oct. 11-12.
Denver starts its 70th season of NCAA hockey at No. 2 in both national preseason polls. The Pioneers received 891 points in the USCHO.com Poll and 446 points and two first-place votes in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll. Last season, Denver finished with a 24-12-5 season record. Denver saw its 2018-19 season end following a national semifinal overtime loss to Massachusetts in the Pioneers 17th Frozen Four appearance in program history and third Frozen Four in the last four seasons. The Pioneers drop the puck on their regular season this weekend at Alaska.
St. Cloud State (30-6-3 last year) heads into the upcoming season ranked No. 6 with 566 points in the USCHO.com Poll and No. 8 in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll with 207 points. For the majority of the 2018-19 season, the Huskies sat atop both national polls and captured their second straight NCHC Penrose Cup, before being upset by American International in the opening round of NCAA regional play. SCSU hits the ice for the first time in the 2019-20 season on Sunday in an exhibition game against Alberta.
With the majority of its point scorers returning, Western Michigan (21-15-1 last year) enters the USCHO.com Poll at No. 14 with 371 points, compared to its No. 18 rank in the final 2018-19 poll. The Broncos also top off the USA Hockey Magazine Poll at No. 15 with 121 points. The Broncos finished third in the NCHC last year, before falling to Colorado College in a best-of-three quarterfinal series. To start its season, WMU hosts NAIT in an exhibition game on Saturday.
North Dakota (18-17-2 last year) is the final NCHC team ranked in the USCHO.com Preseason Poll at No. 18 with 211 points. The Fighting Hawks also received 36 poinst in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll and would be No. 19 if the 15-team rankings continued. Last season, UND floated in and out of the polls before concluding its season with two losses at Denver during the NCHC Quarterfinals. It was the first time since the 2001-02 season that UND did not host the first round of conference playoffs. Looking to a new season, the Fighting Hawks will host Manitoba in an exhibition game on Saturday, Oct. 5.
Colorado College (17-20-4) received nine points in the Preseason USCHO.com Poll and would be No. 28 if the rankings continued. The second half of the 2018-19 season proved to be rewarding for the Tigers, who won the Gold Pan trophy over rival Denver for the first time since 2014 and advanced to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff for the first time in program history with a quarterfinal series win at WMU. CC hits the ice on Oct. 5 in an exhibition against Trinity Western.
Omaha rounds out the NCHC teams named in the USCHO.com Poll, receiving seven points in the preseason ranking. The Mavericks finished the 2018-19 season with a 9-24-3 record, but touts one of the best incoming freshman classes in the country. Omaha dives into the 2019-20 season with an exhibition game against Manitoba on Monday, Oct. 7.
Six of the eight NCHC teams open the season with exhibition games at home from Oct. 5-7. DU and Miami’s regular-seasons start this weekend at Alaska and home against Bowling Green, respectively. All opening weekend games, except DU, will be available on NCHC.tv.