SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Endicott College was tabbed as the preseason favorite to claim the first-ever Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Men's Ice Hockey Championship in the CCC Preseason Coaches' Poll released on Wednesday morning by the conference office.
The Gulls earned 97 points and seven of the possible 10 first place votes that were cast by the league's head men's ice hockey coaches.
Last year, in only its first varsity season, Endicott posted a 16-9-2 record and advanced all the way to the conference championship. However, the Gulls' inaugural varsity season met a disappointing end as they were bested by Salve Regina in the final.
That Salve Regina team, coming off the best season in program history, a conference championship, and its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, was picked in the second slot of this year's poll. The Seahawks earned the three remaining first place votes and totaled 88 points.
The University of New England, the only team that did not compete against the other CCC hockey schools last year, was picked third in the poll with 75 points.
Rounding out the top five were Nichols, which was voted into the fourth spot with 68 points, and Wentworth, which earned 55 points for the fifth slot.
Suffolk (48 points), Curry (41), Johnson & Wales (38), Becker (23), and Western New England (17) closed out this year's ledger in that order.
The first year of CCC hockey gets underway on Friday, Oct. 28 with five CCC teams in non-conference action. All ten teams will drop the puck on the CCC season on Thursday, Nov. 3. The top eight teams in the 2016-17 regular-season conference standings will qualify for the CCC Tournament, which starts with the quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 25 and concludes with the inaugural CCC Men's Ice Hockey Championship on Saturday, March 4. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the league's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship Tournament.