Gophers hockey shares top spot in preseason poll

Drew Claussen

The Gophers men’s hockey team will open the 2012-13 season with the No. 1 ranking, according to the USA Today/USA Hockey preseason poll, but it will share the honors with the team that ended its season last year.

Boston College, which defeated Minnesota en route to the NCAA championship, had 20 first place votes, eight more than the Gophers. But both teams ended up with 476 points, meaning Minnesota likely had more second- and third-place votes.

The Gophers won the MacNaughton Cup for finishing first in the regular-season Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings last season. They beat Boston and North Dakota in the NCAA tournament before losing to Boston College in the Frozen Four.

WCHA foes No. 4 North Dakota, No. 8 Denver, No. 12 Minnesota-Duluth and No. 15 Wisconsin join the Gophers in the poll, which ranks the top-15 teams.

Minnesota will play an exhibition game against Lethbridge on Oct. 6 before opening its regular season schedule Oct. 12 at home against Michigan State.