MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The Saint Anselm College women's ice hockey team received three first-place votes and was picked third in the 2016-17 New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Preseason Coaches Poll, as announced on Thursday.
Saint Anselm, which finished in a tie for second in the NEHC last season with a 14-3-0 record in league play, collected 166 points in the poll, just four behind Holy Cross and 15 behind preseason favorite Norwich. Last season was the first season the league competed as the NEHC, after the conference changed names from the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East.
Norwich received seven of the 14 first-place votes from the league's coaches, while Holy Cross gathered three. UMass Boston also earned one first-place vote and finished five points behind Saint Anselm in fourth.
Saint Anselm finished 2015-16 with a 21-6-0 record overall and won at least 18 games for the sixth-straight season. The Hawks advanced to the NEHC Open Championship game before falling to Holy Cross in overtime, 4-3.
The Hawks welcome back 19 returners from last season's team, including reigning NEHC Player of the Year Alex Starzyk, who led the league with 32 points and 19 goals in her junior campaign. Martha Findley joined Starzyk on the All-NEHC First Team after finishing as the second-leading scorer among defensemen in the NEHC with two goals and a conference-high 24 assists as a junior. The pair also earned CCM Second Team All-America honors at the tail end of last season.
Saint Anselm opens the 2016-17 season by hosting Franklin Pierce on Friday, Oct. 28 at Sullivan Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
2016-17 Women's NEHC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Norwich University (7) - 181 points
2. College of the Holy Cross (3) - 170 points
3. Saint Anselm College (3) - 166 points
4. UMass Boston (1) - 161 points
5. University of New England - 127 points
6. Franklin Pierce University - 118 points
7. Castleton University - 116 points
8. Manhattanville College - 101 points
9. Salve Regina University - 95 points
10. Plymouth State University - 66 points
11. New England College - 61 points
12. University of Southern Maine - 45 points
13. Saint Michael's College - 36 points
14. Nichols College - 27 points
*(first-place votes in parentheses)