College hockey is back!
The 2022-23 season gets underway Saturday, kicking off a weekend slate featuring a combination of conference, non-conference and exhibition games throughout the country. It all culminates in April at the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa.
Below are some of the top storylines to watch as the season gets underway.
Growing the Game – The ranks of NCAA Division I men’s hockey have grown by two schools this season with the additions of independents Lindenwood University and Stonehill College. The addition of those two programs brings the total of NCAA Division I men’s hockey programs to 62.
Next season, Robert Morris University will return to Atlantic Hockey after a two-year hiatus, while Augustana University will begin play as a member of the CCHA.
Poll Position – Defending NCAA champion Denver sits atop both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine preseason polls, receiving 25 of 34 first-place votes and 37 of 50 in the latter.
Despite losing the likes of Hobey Baker Award finalist Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.), as well as 23-goal scorers Carter Savoie (St. Albert, Alberta) and Cameron Wright (Newmarket, Ontario), to the pro ranks, the Pioneers return 237 points from last year’s title team, more than all but four teams in the country.
Top Returning Individual Scorers from 2021-22:
44 points (15g, 29a) – Louis Boudon, Lake Superior State
44 points (13g, 31a) – Brendan Furry, Minnesota State
43 points (24g, 19a) – AJ Vanderbeck, Northern Michigan
41 points (15g, 26a) – Cade Borchardt, Minnesota State
40 points (22g, 18a) – Matthew Kopperud, Arizona State
Youth of the Nation – College hockey will experience a significant infusion of new blood in 2022-23, with 16 different rosters featuring 10 or more freshmen. Last season, only five teams had a rookie count in double digits.
Largest Freshman Classes:
12 – Alaska Anchorage, Connecticut, Michigan, St. Thomas
11 – Long Island, Maine, Minnesota
10 – Alaska, American International, Army West Point, Lindenwood, Michigan Tech, Minnesota Duluth, Northern Michigan, Omaha, Stonehill
Drafty in Here – Division I rosters feature 215 NHL draft picks this season, the most in at least 10 years, and 37 schools have at least one NHL draft pick on their roster.
Most Draft Picks, NCAA Teams:
15 – Harvard
14 – Minnesota
12 – Boston University, Denver, Michigan, North Dakota, Northeastern
10 – Massachusetts, Minnesota Duluth, Providence, Wisconsin
Sixty-six college players had their names called during the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal, including seven first-round picks. Boston College and Michigan had at least one player selected for the 27th consecutive draft, tying the all-time NCAA record held by Minnesota (1974-2000).
Hobey Hopefuls – Three of last year’s 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award are back with their schools in 2022-23: Michigan sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.), Northeastern junior goalie Devon Levi (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec), and Quinnipiac sophomore goalie Yaniv Perets (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec).
Hughes, the fourth overall pick by New Jersey in 2021, was the College Hockey News Rookie of the Year and a second-team All-American after leading all NCAA rookie skaters with 39 points in 41 games. His 17 goals also set a Michigan record for a freshman defenseman.
Levi captured the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top goalie and was named the Tim Taylor National Rookie of the Year, punctuating a spectacular season that saw him go 21-10-1 with a 1.54 GAA and a nation’s-best .952 save percentage.
Perets, a second-team All-American, went 22-5-2 in his 31 appearances while breaking the NCAA Division I men’s hockey single-season record with a 1.17 GAA. He also led the nation with 11 shutouts, one shy of the record set by Niagara’s Greg Gardner in 1999-2000.
Most Career Shutouts, Active:
11 – Yaniv Perets, Quinnipiac
10 – Devon Levi, Northeastern
10 – Blake Pietila, Michigan Tech
10 – Dylan St. Cyr, Michigan State
9 – Magnus Chrona, Denver
Most Career Shutouts, All-Time
34 – Dryden McKay, Minnesota State
26 – Ryan Miller, Michigan State
24 – Dryden McKay, Minnesota State
21 – Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State
20 – Joe Fallon, Vermont
Behind the Bench – Five programs have new head coaches behind the bench this season: Boston College’s Greg Brown, Boston University’s Jay Pandolfo, Michigan’s Brandon Naurato, Michigan State’s Adam Nightingale, and Union’s Josh Hauge. All but Hauge, a of Bethel University alum, are coaching their alma maters.