UND Celebrates the win O.T. (Courtesy: Russell Hons for UNDsports.com)
The ballots have been tallied, the NCHC media has spoken. The University of North Dakota men’s hockey team is ranked third in the 2017-18 preseason media poll. Apparently, the members of the NCHC media think that the St. Cloud State Huskies are going to finish above UND when the 2017-18 season is over. Mind you, the Hawks beat the Huskies five out of six times last season. Obviously, that means nothing this year. Truth be told, I wasn’t impressed with the Huskies goaltending or their d-core either.
Sure, UND lost Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost and Tucker Poolman. Let’s not forget, UND played quite a few games without one or both of those players last season. Boeser and Jost combined missed 15 games. That being said, UND returns seven of their top-10 scorers from last season.
I’ve said this before, polls are fun to look at and discuss, but they’re really meaningless once the regular season begins. The only one that matters is the one at the end of the season after the NCAA playoffs are over. It’s my belief that UND is going to fly under the radar this season. Seriously, last season, UND was a very young team. They were very raw and they didn’t start jelling until the end of the season. They showed us flashes of greatness. At times, the youth of last year’s team was UND’s Achilles heel. You had freshmen and sophomores playing roles often reserved for upperclassmen.
A couple of times last season, I had a very candid discussion with UND goalie Cam Johnson and his comments kind of illustrated what happened last year. At times, the defense was giving up too many grade-A opportunities. Those often end up in the back of the net.
“For the most part, I don’t think I’ve had a bad year. I’ve had an off-year when you look at my stats,” Johnson said. “But we’ve got a completely different team. Like you said, we’ve got young guys on the backend. It’s a tough game and we play in a tough league. We play against a lot of really good teams. We’re giving up a lot of chances and we’re giving up goals. It’s something I can’t get upset about.”
2017-18 NCHC Preseason Poll
Denver – 240 points (30 first-place votes)
St. Cloud State – 187
North Dakota – 172
Minnesota Duluth – 160
Miami – 104
Western Michigan – 102
Omaha – 83
Colorado College – 32