The ECAC Hockey coaches and media agree that Union and RPI will finish in the middle of the pack this season.
They just disagree on what spots.
The media picked Union to finish sixth in its preseason poll, earning 58 points, while the coaches chose the Dutchmen eighth, getting 45 points. The coaches have RPI finishing sixth, collecting 70 points, while the media has the Engineers finishing in a tie for seventh with St. Lawrence. Each team got 52 points.
There’s no question which poll first-year Union head coach Josh Hauge prefers.
“I liked the media a lot more, I’ll tell you that much,” Hauge said during the conference’s virtual media day Wednesday.
The Dutchmen are coming off a tumultuous 2021-22 season during which former head coach Rick Bennett resigned in late January after a complaint about his coaching style. Assistant coach John Ronan then took over as the interim head coach and guided the Dutchmen to a seventh-place finish and a sweep of Princeton in the first round of the ECACH tournament before getting swept in the quarterfinals by Clarkson in two games that both went to overtime.
Hauge, who was an assistant coach for Clarkson, was named the Dutchmen’s head coach in mid-April. Ronan, who was a candidate for the position, remains as assistant coach.
“I think we have a good group,” said Hauge, whose Dutchmen open the season next Saturday when they host RIT at Messa Rink. “I think we’ll compete with everyone. I think the league’s going to be really tight this year. Putting us in that group is fair. It’s probably where we deserve [to be], but we’re going to prove everybody wrong there and finish higher up.”
RPI finished sixth last season. The Engineers eliminated Dartmouth in three games in the first round before falling to eventual ECACH tournament-champion Harvard in three games in the quarterfinals.
RPI head coach Dave Smith, who signed a five-year contract extension last month, believes the coaches poll prediction for his team is spot on.
“I think the top six are exactly the same as the standings that finished [last] year. I’m not so sure after the top six,” Smith said, whose Engineers play exhibition games next Saturday against Colgate and next Sunday versus the University of Toronto before opening the regular season Oct. 7 when Mercyhurst visits Houston Field House.
“The top four haven’t changed in the standings much except in 2020, when we got into that fourth spot,” Smith said. “I felt we were on the rise, and COVID set us back quite a bit. But I thought we had a nice rebound-type year with a good playoff push [against] Harvard. I think it does make sense to put us at six. I think there’s a dogfight between five and wherever, for everybody. I think anybody that creeps into the top four, which can happen, is going to have an excellent year.”
SPLIT ON FAVORITE
The coaches and media didn’t agree on who would finish first.
The coaches chose Quinnipiac to repeat as regular-season champions. The Bobcats received eight of 12 first-place votes and 118 points.
The media picked Harvard to win the conference. The Crimson got eight of nine first-place votes and 107 points.
The coaches have Harvard finishing second. The Crimson got the other four first-place votes and 109 points. Quinnipiac was picked to finish second with 95 points by the media.
Clarkson received the media’s other first-place vote. The Golden Knights are picked to finish third in both polls.
The coaches and media were in agreement with most of the picks for the ECACH preseason all-conference team. Goalie Yaniv Perets (Quinnipiac), defensemen Zach Metsa (Quinnipiac) and Henry Thrun (Harvard) and forwards Alex Campbell (Clarkson), Matthew Coronato (Harvard) were on both squads. Alex Laferriere (Harvard) and Mathieu Gosselin (Clarkson) tied for the final spot on the coaches’ team, while Sean Farrell (Harvard) got the final spot on the media’s team.
ECAC HOCKEY PRESEASON POLLS
First-place votes in parentheses
Rank Team Points
1) Quinnipiac (8) 118
2) Harvard (4) 109
3) Clarkson 105
4) Cornell 90
5) Colgate 77
6) RPI 70
7) St. Lawrence 57
8) Union 45
9) Dartmouth 43
10) Yale 32
11) Brown 26
12) Princeton 20
Rank Team Points
1) Harvard (8) 107
2) Quinnipiac 95
3) Clarkson (1) 92
4) Colgate 76
5) Cornell 75
6) Union 58
7 tie) St. Lawrence 52
7 tie) RPI 52
9) Yale 30
10) Princeton 28
11) Dartmouth 21
12) Brown 20