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Union picked No. 1 in ECAC Hockey coaches' and media polls (updates)

By Ken Schott
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For the first time in its 22-year Division I history, Union has been picked as the favorite to win the ECAC Hockey regular-season title.

The Dutchmen, the two-time defending ECACH Cleary Cup champions, were picked first in the coaches’ and media polls. The Dutchmen received eight of 12 first-place votes and earned 118 points in the coaches’ poll. In the media poll, the Dutchmen got 18 of 30 first-place votes and received 343 points.

Union, which went 14-4-4 in the league last season and finished 26-8-7 overall, is seeking to become the first team to win three straight ECACH regular-season titles since Harvard did it from 1992-94. The Dutchmen won their first ECACH tournament title, and captured the NCAA tournament East Regional to reach their first Frozen Four at the Division I level.

Second-year head coach Rick Bennett, who won the Tim Taylor Award as ECACH coach of the year last season, wasn’t aware of the history of Union in the coaches’ and media polls, nor the fact that no one has won three straight ECACH regular-season titles since the 1990s.

“But we rather have the pressure than not have the pressure,” Bennett said during Wednesday’s ECACH media day conference call. “That’s how we look at it.”

Union has certainly come a long way from the years where it was consistently picked near the bottom of the league.

“Respect is, basically, earned, and that’s how it’s always been,” Bennett said. “The players that have come through this program, and I’m not just talking about the guys who have come through the last few years, but the guys who set the foundation, everybody’s contributed to today’s success. But we are a long ways away from complacent. That’s our motto.”

RPI finished eighth in the coaches poll with 46 points, and ninth in the media poll with 144 points. The Engineers finished 10th in the league last season with a 7-12-3 record. They knocked off seventh-seeded Clarkson in the ECACH tournament first round before falling to the Dutchmen in the quarterfinals.

RPI finished 12-14-3 overall.

“We’re anxious and eager to get the season going,” said Seth Appert, who begins his seventh season as RPI’s head coach. “Our offseason has been too long. Last season, especially the first half, was miserable. [There were] a lot of things that I didn’t do a good enough job with in terms of in getting our team to understand how we want to play and what our program’s about. Maybe I let my guard down from the previous two years, thinking our culture was established. I wasn’t vigilant enough with that.”

The coaches and media were in agreement on the top six spots. Cornell is second, Harvard came in third, Quinnipiac placed fourth, Yale is fifth and St. Lawrence finished sixth. They also agreed on Princeton (11th) and Brown (12th).

The rest of the results have Dartmouth seventh in the coaches’ poll and 10th in the media poll, Colgate ninth in the coaches’ poll and eighth in the media poll and Clarkson 10th in the coaches’ poll and seventh in the media poll.

Union dominated the preseason all-conference team for the coaches and media. Leading the way is junior goalie Troy Grosenick. He won the Ken Dryden Award as the league’s top goalie with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage and made the All-ECACH first team. Overall, Grosenick was 22-6-3 with a 1.65 GAA, a .936 save percentage and five shutouts. He was a first-team All-America and Union’s first Hobey Baker top-10 finalist.

The other Dutchmen on the team are junior forward Daniel Carr and junior defenseman Mat Bodie. Carr had 20 goals and 20 assists last season. He became the first Union player to have two 20-goal seasons. Bodie was the second-leading scorer among ECACH defensemen with six goals and 16 assists and was a first-team All-ECACH. He finished with eight goals and 21 assists, and was a first-team All-America.

The coaches and media both picked Harvard defenseman Danny Biega and Quinnipiac forward Connor Jones on their respective teams. The only difference was the coaches picked St. Lawrence forward Kyle Flanagan, while the media selected Flanagan’s teammate, Greg Carey.

Coaches poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Union (8) 118 points

2. Cornell (3) 110
3. Harvard (1) 98
4. Quinnipiac 93
5. Yale 77
6. St. Lawrence 61
7. Dartmouth 58

8. RPI 46

9. Colgate 45
10. Clarkson 41
11. Princeton 25
12. Brown 20

Media poll

1. Union (18) 343 points
2. Cornell (11) 330
3. Harvard 293
4. Quinnipiac 246
5. Yale (1) 236
6. St. Lawrence 159
7. Clarkson 155
8. Colgate 148

9. RPI 144

10. Dartmouth 140
11. Princeton 108
12. Brown 41

Here is how I voted:
1. Union
2. Cornell
3. Harvard
4. Quinnipiac
5. Yale
6. Clarkson
7. RPI
8. St. Lawrence
9. Colgate
10. Dartmouth
11. Princeton
12. Brown

My Preseason All-Conference team: G, Grosenick; D, Biega and Bodie; F, Carey, Carr and Jones.

 
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