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Saints picked ninth in preseason poll

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Another ECAC Hockey preseason coaches poll came out with the two north country schools ranked near the bottom of the 12-team conference.

St. Lawrence, which forced a decisive third game in last year's ECAC Tournament quarterfinals, was picked ninth by the league's coaches. Clarkson, which finished tied for seventh in the league last season, ranked 11th this year.

Neither squad has been ranked above seventh in the preseason poll in three years.

“I'm not going to put too much stock in that,” Clarkson first-year head coach Casey Jones said during Wednesday's teleconference. “We have players who can produce and who will produce.”

St. Lawrence associate head coach Mike Hurlbut filled in for head coach Joe Marsh. He, too, isn't weighing the preseason polls too heavily.

“That's an accurate ranking based on last year's record (13-22-5),” Hurlbut said. “(But) we feel we're better than ranked ninth. We're confident in the way we finished last year.”

Taking the top spot for the third year in a row was defending ECAC Tournament champion Yale, which received nine first-place votes. Union is the defending regular season champion and received two first place votes to place second.

Both teams had disappointing early exits from the NCAA tournament last year.

“Our postseason expectations haven't changed,” said Yale coach Keith Allain, who lost nine players to graduation. “We want to be in a position to play in the national tournament. When we get to the national tournament, we want to be in the position to be in the national championship game. When we get there, we want to win it.”

The media poll was only slightly kinder to Clarkson and St. Lawrence. There, the Saints were picked eighth, while the Golden Knights were ninth. Yale again took the top spot.

Though neither team placed a player on the coaches preseason all-league team, St. Lawrence's Greg Carey earned a spot as a preseason all-league forward by the media. Carey led SLU in scoring with 23 goals and 40 points last season.

“He got a lot of attention league-wide and country-wide,” Hurlbut said. “We're counting on him to hopefully repeat last year's total.”

Clarkson and St. Lawrence both play a home exhibition game on Sunday. St. Lawrence faces Carleton at 4 p.m. at Appleton Arena. Clarkson plays Ottawa at 5 p.m. at Cheel Arena. Both schools begin the regular season on Oct. 7.

Coaches poll:

1. Yale (9)

2. Union (2)

3. Cornell

4. RPI

5. Dartmouth

6. Quinnipiac (1)

7. Harvard

8. Princeton

9. St. Lawrence

10. Colgate

11. Clarkson

12. Brown

Media poll:

1. Yale (23)

2. Union (11)

3. Cornell (3)

4. Dartmouth (1)

5. RPI

6. Quinnipiac

7. Princeton

8. St. Lawrence

9. Clarkson

10. Colgate

11. Brown

12. Harvard

Hurlbut comments:

"(Defensemen Justin) Baker's fine. At one time, we were talking about surgery, but he's rehabbed extremely well this summer. He's wearing a brace and doesn't feel it is going to be an issue. We did have a scare that we though we might lose him for half the season. He will not miss any time at the start of the season because of the knee injury."

Hurlbut also noted his excitement for the potential of the Greg Carey/Kyle Flanagan line. He did not say who would be the third on the top forward line. He is also impressed with rookies Nelson Armstrong, Gunnar Hughes and Pat Doherty.

Finally, Hurlbut made a rather bold comparison: "Tommy Thompson was a late-developing kid out of New Hampshire. We feel he's as fast as Aaron Bogosian."

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