7 New England schools land in initial top-20 college hockey rankings

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 06: Merrick Madsen
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 06: Merrick Madsen /

College hockey season is right around the corner, and USHCO has released their preseason top-20 rankings. Seven New England teams made the cut.

While New England may not be strong when it comes to college football like the SEC, college hockey is king in the east. Hockey East is like the SEC in the sense that they constantly have the top product and produce championship teams.

Last season, three teams from New England made the 16-team NCAA hockey bracket, and this year there could be even more. Harvard made the deepest run in 2017, reaching the Frozen Four but losing to Minnesota Duluth.

The Crimson though, while ranked ahead of Minnesota Duluth, are not the top-ranked New England team. That claim belongs to the #2 team in the country, the Boston University Terriers. Here’s the full top 20 from USHCO. New England teams are in bold.

  • 1. Denver
  • 2. Boston University
  • 3. Minnesota
  • 4. Harvard
  • 5. UMass Lowell
  • 6. Minnesota Duluth
  • 7. North Dakota
  • 8. Notre Dame
  • 9. St. Cloud State
  • 10. Penn State
  • 11. Providence
  • 12. Wisconsin
  • 13. Boston College
  • 14. Quinnipiac
  • 15. Cornell
  • 16. Union
  • 17. Air Force
  • 18. Minnesota State
  • 19. Ohio State
  • 20. Northeastern
  • 20. Western Michigan

2. Boston University

The Boston University Terriers are among college hockey’s favorites to win the NCAA title in 2018. This season, they have extremely high hopes with a ton of talent on the roster, even with the departure of Charlie McAvoy. He’s now playing down the street for the NHL’s Boston Bruins.

Boston University will still have some top-tier NHL prospects though. The best of which may be forward Jordan Greenway, who was selected by the Minnesota Wild with the 50th pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Future Nashville Predators forward Dante Fabbro will also play a huge role for the Terriers in 2017-18.

BU will open their season on September 30th against Union at home in Boston. Their first marquee matchup will come on October 8th, when they face #14 Quinnipiac on the road in Connecticut. The Terriers Hockey East play will open on October 20th with a home-and-home series versus the UConn Huskies. As always, the Terriers will also take place in Boston’s Beanpot Tournament on February 5th and 12th. They’ll face Harvard in the semifinals there.

College Hockey
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 06: Merrick Madsen /

4. Harvard

Harvard is still honestly a bit shocking as a hockey power. The fact that these kids have the brains to attend such a prestigious university while also maintaining their elite athlete status is amazing.

The Crimson will look to make another deep postseason run behind their captain and goaltender Merrick Madsen. He was drafted in 2013 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Madsen will get a ton of help on defense from Adam Fox, who was selected by the Calgary Flames with the 66th pick in 2016.

Harvard’s season begins on October 7th against Windsor. They then open Ivy League play against Dartmouth on October 29th. Their toughest challenge will come against BU in the Beanpot, but they’ll also face Boston College, Quinnipiac, Minnesota, and UMass Lowell this year.

5. UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell is consistently a tough team to play in college hockey. This season, they’ll look to make a jump and make a run at a NCAA title.

The River Hawks will get things going on September 30th as they clash with Acadia University at Tsongas Arena. Hockey East play begins less than a week later on October 6th against New Hampshire. A tough early-season matchup comes in a home-and-home series with the Northeastern Huskies. UML will also have to make a pretty long road trip, as they travel to Tempe, Arizona to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils on January 12th and 13th.

11. Providence

The Providence Friars are the last New England team to take home the NCAA title, as they did so in 2015. In 2018, they’ll look to add another to their trophy case.

PC has the chance to get off to a hot start on October 6th on the road against Miami (OH). That two-game series should get the Friars prepared to take on the Boston College Eagles on October 15th. Providence will have a tough final three games this season, as they close with two games against UMass Lowell and one game against UMass.

College Hockey
BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 08: Members of Boston College celebrate after defeating Boston University during the Beanpot Tournament championship game at TD Garden on February 8, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

13. Boston College

20-year old defenseman Casey Fitzgerald will likely be a captain as a junior for the Eagles. He had a slight dip in play last season, so this year he’ll look to rebound with the rest of the Boston College squad.

BC gets a quick tune-up at the new Warrior Ice Arena in Boston against New Brunswick before taking on Quinnipiac on October 6th. Hockey East play for the Eagles begins on October 15th with the Providence Friars. Boston College will also look to reclaim the Beanpot title.

14. Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac hockey is truly starting to make a name for itself. This could be a surprise year for them, as I believe they’ll find themselves in the NCAA tournament. They open the 2017-18 season with a game against the Saint Mary’s Huskies at home. Then, they’ll get an instant test against BC on October 6th and BU on October 8th.

Like a few other New England teams, Quinnipiac will also travel to Tempe, AZ to take on the Sun Devils. The ECAC tournament will begin on March 2nd, with the championship being played on the 17th.

20. Northeastern

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The Huskies will be led by two stellar forwards, Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura. Both had breakout seasons last season and will look to continue their improvement this year. Gaudette looks like he’ll soon be playing for the Vancouver Canucks, but Sikura declined to sign an entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason. He could become a free-agent in the summer of 2018 now.

Gaudette, Sikura, and the rest of the Northeastern team will open their season on September 30th with an exhibition game against Prince Edward Island. They then face Sacred Heart at Matthews Arena in a two-game series. A tough late October and early November stretch has the Huskies taking on Quinnipiac, UMass Lowell, Boston University, or Boston College in 8 of 9 games. That’s going really tell us a lot about the potential of these Huskies.

Next: 4 Hockey East players to watch this season

If you’re a fan of NHL hockey, you should really give this college hockey thing a try. The kids are playing with a ton of heart, and you’ll get to see a ton of NHL prospects as they develop in the New England area. Plus, then we can all get behind these teams as they make a push towards a title. This season, the Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN will belong to New England. Can we get an all-New England semifinals and final? It’s surely possible with the talent on these squads.