Defending national champion Boston College has been tabbed by both the Hockey East Association coaches and the media to claim the conference again in 2012-13, according to the Hockey East website. It marks the fifth straight year that BC has been the preseason conference favorite.
The Eagles, who have also won three consecutive Hockey East championship games, were ranked ahead of UMass-Lowell, Boston University and New Hampshire in both polls released Tuesday.
Hockey East has won four of the last five NCAA Division I men's national titles, with BC winning in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Boston University won it all in 2009, while Minnesota-Duluth of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association claimed its first ever national crown in 2011. BC defeated UMD in the NCAA Northeast Regional last year en route to its fifth national title overall.
BC sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau and senior goaltender Parker Milner were also named to the preseason All-Hockey East team. Gaudreau, a Calgary Flames draft choice, tallied 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points a year ago, including a dazzling clinching goal in the national title game against Ferris State, earning Hockey East Tournament MVP honors. Milner finished 29-5-0 overall with a 1.66 goals-against average, won his last 19 games of the season and was tabbed as the Frozen Four MVP.
The Eagles will need to replace leading scorer Chris Kreider, who jumped to the pros after winning his second national championship in April, and then helped the New York Rangers to within two wins of the Stanley Cup Final. Also gone is classmate Brian Dumoulin, a First Team All-America choice on defense who signed with the Carolina Hurricanes following the Frozen Four, and has since had his rights traded to the Boston Bruins.
BC will open its 2012-13 campaign with an exhibition contest against New Brunswick on Oct. 6, before ringing in the regular season a week later at Northeastern. The Eagles will then hoist their 2011-12 national title banner to the Conte Forum rafters on Jan. 20 when they host Northeastern in their home opener. Coach Jerry York is also just 12 wins away from surpassing Ron Mason's record of 924 career college hockey wins.