SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (October 18, 2017) - The Western New England University ice hockey team was picked to finish eighth in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released by the league office on Wednesday.
The Golden Bears received 32 points in the poll, which is voted on by all ten CCC head coaches. Defending CCC champion Endicott College was selected as the 2017-18 favorite with nine of ten first place votes and 99 total points, while the University of New England was picked second with 85 points. Salve Regina University received the final first place tally and finished third in the poll with 78 points. Nichols College (74) and Curry College (55) were slotted fourth and fifth, respectively, while the Wentworth Institute of Technology and Johnson & Wales University tied for sixth (35). Suffolk University (30) and Becker College (27) rounded out the final two spots in the poll.
After improving by six wins and returning to postseason play last winter, the Western New England University ice hockey team will look to take another step forward in 2017-18 under ninth-year head coach Greg Heffernan.
Western New England returns its leading point scorer in senior forward Matt Smethurst (Rexford, N.Y.), as well as juniors Matt O'Dea (Orland Park, Ill.), Steve Beck (Milton, N.Y.) and Stefan Koproske (Simsbury, Conn.), who were all significant contributors a season ago.
Senior Matt Audet (Campbell, Calif.) will lead a defensive unit that also features experience returning with juniors Edmund Rogers (Creve Coeur, Mo.) and Connor Graham (Norfolk, Mass.), while junior goaltender Kevin Gollmer (Flourtown, Pa.) will look to establish himself as one of the top netminders in the conference.
The Golden Bears will open the 2017-18 campaign the same way they have for the past eight seasons, with a matchup at local rival Westfield State on Friday, October 27. After a week off, Western New England opens its home slate on Friday, November 3 against CCC opponent Salve Regina at the Olympia Ice Center. The 2017-18 season also features a Thanksgiving weekend tournament at Southern New Hampshire University, and a two-game road trip to eastern Pennsylvania in January.