The University of North Dakota was ranked No. 2 in the first annual National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) preseason media poll released today at NCHC Media Day at Target Center.
North Dakota received five first-place votes and 109 points, totals topped only by preseason league favorite Miami, which garnered seven first-place votes and 115 points. St. Cloud State received the remaining four first-place votes and was picked to finish third.
Denver, Western Michigan, Minnesota Duluth, Colorado College and Nebraska Omaha were ranked fourth through eighth, respectively.
UND, entering its 1010th season under head coach Dave Hakstol, returns 18 letterwinners from last year's team that went 22-13-7 (14-7-7 WCHA) and advanced to the NCAA West Region championship game. UND joins the new NCHC having won a league-record 15 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular season titles, as well as an additional 11 WCHA playoff titles.
Sophomore Rocco Grimaldi (40 GP, 13-23--36) and junior Mark MacMillan (42 GP, 13-12-25) are the team's top returning scorers, while senior Dillon Simpson (42 GP, 5-19—24), junior Nick Mattson (38 GP, 3-12—15) and sophomore Jordan Schmaltz (42 GP, 3-9—12) anchor the defensive unit.
UND also returns a pair of letterwinners between the pipes in senior Clarke Saunders (13-9-4, 2.29, .917) and sophomore Zane Gothberg (9-4-3, 2.46, .920).
UND opens the season Oct. 6 with a home exhibition game against Manitoba. The regular season begins Oct. 11-12 against non-conference opponent Vermont and UND makes its NCHC debut Oct. 18-19 at Miami.
NCHC Preseason Poll
1. Miami (7) 115
2. North Dakota (5) 109
3. St. Cloud State (4) 99
4. Denver 66
5. Western Michigan 61
6. Minnesota Duluth 43
7. Colorado College 42
8. Nebraska Omaha 41
- UND -