After being picked last in the Hockey East preseason media poll released on Sunday, the league’s coaches echoed a similar sentiment on Tuesday when the University of Maine men’s hockey team was picked to share last place with the University of Massachusetts.
Defiant fifth-year UMaine head coach Red Gendron said the polls are wrong.
“I guarantee that we will not finish 10th or 11th. I guarantee you that,” said Gendron emphatically on Tuesday.
He said he understands why his team was picked where it was.
“We haven’t been winning,” said Gendron. “It is what it is.”
All 11 teams qualify for the Hockey East playoffs.
UMaine has finished 11th the last two seasons with identical 5-15-2 league records. Hockey East was a 12-team league but lost Notre Dame, which has joined the Big Ten.
Boston University was the coaches’ pick to win the league championship. The Terriers were also chosen as league’s top team in the media poll. Boston University received two first-place votes and 90 points.
UMass Lowell had the most first-place votes (5) but was second in points with 88. Providence, Boston College and Northeastern occupied the next three spots and were the other teams to receive first-place votes.
The Friars had two first-place votes and 83 points while Boston College (75) and Northeastern (72) each earned one first-place vote.
Vermont was picked sixth (54) followed by Connecticut (39), New Hampshire (37), Merrimack (29), UMaine and UMass (19 each).
Gendron said he is “excited as hell” for the season.
The Black Bears open Sunday at 4 p.m. with an exhibition game against Acadia University of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, at Alfond Arena in Orono.
Acadia finished third last season in the Canadian national championships, known as the Cavendish Farms University Cup.
The Axemen lost to eventual national titlist New Brunswick 3-0 in the semifinals before beating St. Francis Xavier 7-3 in the bronze medal game. St. Francis Xavier beat UMaine 6-5 in an exhibition last season.
The Black Bears graduated their top two scorers in Blaine Byron and Cam Brown but return their next seven leading scorers. They’ve added 10 freshmen and two transfers, who have become eligible after sitting out last season.
UMaine plays its first countable games Oct. 6 and 7 when it hosts UConn for two Hockey East contests.