MARSHFIELD, Mass.—UMass Boston men's hockey was picked to finish in third place in the new-look New England Hockey Conference, the league office announced Wednesday afternoon.
The Beacons, who saw their season come to an end in the NEHC Semifinals last season, earned 77 total points in the NEHC Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Defending NEHC Tournament Champions Hobart College was picked first, after the Statesmen edged out defending NEHC Regular Season Champions Norwich University. Hobart earned seven first-place votes and 96 total points, while Norwich came in second with 88 points and two first-place votes.
Babson College (70 points), New England College (58 points) and Skidmore College (57 points, 1 first-place vote) rounded out the top-six of the Preseason Poll.
The poll was closed out by Castleton University (36 points), the University of Southern Maine (32 points), Suffolk University (24 points) and Johnson & Wales University (R.I.) (12 points).
The Beacons are coming off a 2017-18 season that saw UMass Boston finish 17-10 and 11-7 in conference play.
UMass Boston returns 20 players from last year's team, including every major contributor except senior captain Colin Larkin (Waterford, Mich.).
Larkin became the first player in program history to win the Sid Watson Award last spring. The two-time NEHC Player of the Year led the conference last season with 46 points and tied for the NEHC lead with 24 goals.
UMass Boston brings back their next 12 top scorers, including National Rookie of the Year Nick Albano (Beverly, Mass.) and NEHC Rookie of the Year Zack Bross (St. Louis, Mo.). Albano led all NEHC players with 21 power-play points and finished in the top five in the conference with 27 assists and 35 points. Bross led all Division III freshman with 41 points last year and paced the Beacons with 33 assists.
Junior Nolan Redler (Winchester, Mass.) finished tied for first in the conference with 24 goals as a sophomore. The All-Region honoree led the NEHC with five game-winning goals and finished third with 39 total points.
UMass Boston also returns all seven of their defensemen and their top two goalies.
Senior captain Gabe Chuckran (Media, Pa.) earned NEHC Third Team honors a season ago. He was one of five Beacons blue liners to finish with at least nine points last season.
Junior goalie Bailey MacBurnie (Beverly, Mass.) is back for his third season in Beacons Blue. MacBurnie finished 16-8 with a 2.68 goals against average and .907 save percentage as a sophomore.
Head coach Peter Belisle and his staff added eight new players to this year's roster. This year's freshman class features five forwards, one defenseman, and the reigning Eastern Hockey League (EHL) Goalie of the Year Nolan Egbert.
UMass Boston opens their 2018-19 slate on Saturday night, when they travel to crosstown foe Wentworth Institute of Technology at 7 p.m. The Beacons open their home and conference slate on Friday November 2, when they host the University of Southern Maine at 7 p.m.