The Gopher hockey team was named the Preseason #1 team in the Big Ten in the Preseason Big Ten Coaches Poll released on Monday. The Gophers also had four players named to the Big Ten Watch List, more than any other school.
The Big Ten coaches see the Gophers as the favorites to win their fourth straight Big Ten regular season championship and their sixth consecutive regular season title overall. Following the Gophers are Ohio State at #2, Michigan at #3, Penn State at #4, Wisconsin at #5, and Michigan State bringing up the rear.
Of some surprise may be the rise of the Buckeyes to the #2 spot, but Ohio State returns most of its offense from a year ago, meanwhile Michigan is missing six of their top seven scorers from a year ago.
The Gophers also had four players named to the thirteen player Preseason Watch List. The Gophers listed include senior captain Justin Kloos who is the active leading scorer in the Big Ten and is second nationally, senior alternate captain defenseman Jake Bischoff, junior wing Leon Bristedt, and sophomore goalie and defending Big Ten Goalie of the year Eric Schierhorn. Both Kloos and Schierhorn were unanimous selections.
The other nine players on the Preseason Watch List include:
Alex Kile, F, Michigan
Mason Appleton, F, Michigan State
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
Kunin and Pedrie were unanimous selections.
The Gophers begin their season October 7th in Alaska with a game against Alaska-Anchorage. They follow that up with a game against Alaska (Fairbanks) on October 9th, before coming home for an exhibition against the US Under-18 Team on October 14th. Finally, The Gophers open the regular season at Mariucci against St. Cloud State on October 21st.