The University of Maine men’s hockey team was picked to finish fourth and the women’s team was selected to wind up last (eighth) in Hockey East this season during the league’s media day in Boston Tuesday.
The polls are conducted by the league’s coaches.
The men’s team made its ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance a year ago and made the Frozen Four for the fourth time in six years.
The Bears lost to eventual national champion Michigan State 4-2 in the semifinals in St. Louis. Maine, which had been ousted from the Hockey East quarterfinals by Massachusetts before returning the favor in the NCAA quarterfinals, wound up 23-15-2.
The women went 10-19-2 last season and missed the Hockey East playoffs, going 5-14-2 in league play.
In the men’s poll, Boston College and New Hampshire were chosen co-favorites with five first-place votes and 84 total points apiece.
Boston University (77 points) was third followed by Maine (61), UMass and Vermont (54 apiece), Northeastern (43), Providence (39), UMass Lowell (25) and Merrimack (10).
“I think it’s fair,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead about his team’s ranking. “Certainly, on paper, the three schools ranked above us are more talented.
“But that’s why we play the games. We’ve got to wait and see what happens,” added Whitehead, whose team has lost players who produced 67.7 percent of its goals a year ago.
“I’m excited about our team. We’ve got some returning players who are ready to emerge and some newcomers who are ready to step right in,” said Whitehead, who will have 10 freshmen on his roster.
“We lost a lot of scoring including key players on our first and second power-play units. It’s going to be very challenging but it’s exciting to see how players can step into those roles and help us win hockey games,” added Whitehead, who is 154-69-26 in his six seasons at Maine.
In the women’s poll, New Hampshire was the coaches’ choice to win the league. The Wildcats received six first-place votes and 55 points.
They were followed by Boston College (51), Connecticut (41), Boston University (38), Providence (35), Northeastern (24), Vermont (20) and Maine (16).
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” said Maine first-year head coach Dan Lichterman, the program’s third coach in three years. “I don’t really care where we were picked.
“I knew we were going to be underdogs most of the way and this just adds a little more fuel to our fire,” said Lichterman.
The Maine women lost players who scored 45.1 percent of their goals a year ago and Lichterman will have nine newcomers on his roster.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will be led by an experienced and top-notch goaltender in Ben Bishop and Genevieve Turgeon, respectively.
The Maine women open Saturday afternoon at 2 against visiting Sacred Heart (Conn.) while the men play an exhibition game Oct. 6 at 7 in Orono against the U.S. Under-18 National Team before opening at Denver the following Friday and Saturday nights.
HOCKEY EAST POLLS
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Boston College (5) 84
1. New Hampshire (5) 84
3. Boston University 77
4. MAINE 61
5. Massachusetts 54
5. Vermont 54
7. Northeastern 43
8. Providence 39
9. UMass Lowell 25
10. Merrimack 19
1. New Hampshire (6) 55
2. Boston College (2) 51
3. Connecticut 41
4. Boston University 38
5. Providence 35
6. Northeastern 24
7. Vermont 20
8. MAINE 16