With 82 of 84 first-place votes across the two national preseason polls released Monday, defending national champion Denver is the overwhelming favorite to repeat entering the 2017-18 season.
The Pioneers return 113 goals from the roster that captured the NCAA title in Chicago last April; only Air Force and Penn State bring back more scoring (119 goals each). Led by Troy Terry (Denver, Colo./U.S. NTDP/ANA), Henrik Borgstrom (Helsinki, Finland/HIFK U20/FLA) and Dylan Gambrell (Bonney Lake, Wash./Dubuque-USHL/SJ) up front and Tanner Jaillet (Red Deer, Alta./Fort McMurray-AJHL) in goal, Denver will seek to become the first repeat NCAA champions since the 2004 and ’05 Denver teams.
Both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and the USCHO.com Poll tagged Boston University, Minnesota and Harvard to round out the top four.
From their opinions diverged, a sign of college hockey’s parity. Providence was picked fifth in one poll, but 11th in the other. Minnesota Duluth was tagged sixth in the USCHO.com Poll, with one first-place vote, and tied for 11th in the other.
Twenty-five teams received votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top 15; the top 20 USCHO.com Poll saw 37 of the 60 Division I teams receive votes.
The Division I men’s college hockey season gets underway Saturday with two regular-season games (Union at Boston University; Niagara at Colgate) and multiple exhibitions. Sunday Michigan Tech visits Wisconsin for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.