LAKE PLACID The mens coaches in ECAC Hockey are not expecting a tough time this season when they face St. Lawrence and Clarkson universities, at least according to their preseason poll, which was released at the conferences media day Tuesday.
The conferences coaches predicted that St. Lawrence will finish 10th in the 12-team conference and they placed the Golden Knights in last place.
SLU went 9-9-4 in conference play a year ago and the Saints were only two points away from finishing in fourth place, which would have earned them a first-round bye in the conference playoffs.
Clarkson went 8-11-3 a year ago and was seeded ninth in the playoffs.
The Saints lost two key players to graduation forward Kyle Flanagan and defenseman George Hughes but return their leading scorer in Hobey Baker Award candidate Greg Carey, a senior who tallied 28 goals and 23 assists last season.
Clarkson lost only senior defensemen Nik Pokulok and Andrew Himelson among the regular players on last years team and returns its top eight scorers, though the team scored just 89 goals in 36 games.
Defending national champion Yale was the choice of the conferences coaches to win the championship, earning four of the 12 first-place votes. Rensselaer, which received two votes, was second, followed by national championship runner-up Quinnipiac and Union, which also received two votes and tied for third. The other first-place votes went to Cornell, which is picked to finish fifth, and Dartmouth, which is picked to finish seventh.
SLUs Carey was selected by the coaches to the preseason, all-conference team as a forward, joining Yales Kenny Agostino and Princetons Andrew Calof. The defensemen are Unions Shayne Gostibehere and Cornells Joakim Ryan and the goalie is RPIs Jason Kasdorf.
SLU fared slightly better in the medias preseason poll, with a seventh-place prediction. But the media also picked Clarkson to finish last.
The media chose RPI as league champion, with 18 of 33 first-place votes, followed by Yale (five votes) and Quinnipiac (six).
The conference also announced Tuesday that it will no longer play a third-place game during the championship weekend. Last years third-place game was a national championship game preview as Quinnipiac defeated Yale 3-0.