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The women's hockey team gathers before the game against Robert Morris at Lynah Rink on October 25th, 2019. 

These stories were originally published by The Cornell Daily Sun.

Women’s Hockey Snags No. 2 Spot in USA Hockey Preseason Poll

The first round of votes are in for women’s Division I ice hockey, and USA Hockey puts the Red icers at No. 2 in the nation. Cornell, with seven first-place votes, trails only the University of Wisconsin in the rankings, which earned nine first-place votes.

The end of the 2019-20 campaign had the new top two teams’ positions flipped, with Wisconsin coming in second to Cornell. Both teams recorded 28 wins in a COVID-19-shortened season. 

After Cornell in the preseason poll came Northeastern University, The University of Minnesota and The Ohio State University to round out the top five.

Cornell lost six integral skaters to graduation, which might factor into Wisconsin’s narrow edge in the poll. Seven freshmen brought in this year will attempt to fill those big shoes if and when competition kicks off this season.

But the Red retains key players that will form a new core without last year’s seniors — a few returning icers are last year’s ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year senior Lindsay Browning, who started all 33 contests last season, senior forward Maddie Mills, who tied for leading the team with 41 points last year and junior forward Gillis Frechette, who was just behind Mills with 17 goals.

Though the Ivy League prohibited varsity athletic competition for the duration of the fall semester, the possibility remains that Cornell hockey could resume play after Dec. 21 — the college’s last day of final exams. Polling includes teams, like Cornell, that do not yet have plans to return to the ice, just as football AP polling included Big Ten and Pac-12 teams before their return to competition.

Fellow ECAC teams joining Cornell in the USA Today Top 10 are Clarkson at No. 6 and Princeton — which downed the Red in last year’s ECAC title game — at No. 7. Division foes also receiving votes, but not landing in the top 10, were Quinnipiac, Colgate and Harvard. These six squads represent half of all teams in the conference.

While the ECAC has not yet made public any official plans for hockey this season on a conference-wide level, Clarkson and Quinnipiac recently announced a series of four games beginning later this month that will technically not count towards in-conference records. The first two games will take place in Potsdam, New York Nov. 28 and 29 without fans in attendance. 

Clarkson, however, has alluded to allowing fans into games during the 2021 portion of the season.

No. 1 Wisconsin, which plays in the WCHA, is slated to start games the same weekend as that Clarkson-Quinnipiac matchup. The Badgers will open their campaign at Ohio State.

With half of the ECAC’s teams coming from the Ivy League, which independently of the ECAC canceled athletics in the fall semester, it is unknown how the rest of the conference might proceed with the season. 

Men’s Hockey Voted No. 6 in Nation in Preseason Poll

Cornell men’s hockey was labeled the No. 6 team in the country in the USCHO preseason poll on Monday. The Red fell five spots since the last poll, when the icers were declared the top team in the nation in the final round of polling for the 2019-20 season.

Though the Ivy League prohibited varsity athletic competition for the duration of the fall semester, the possibility remains that Cornell hockey could resume play after Dec. 21 — the college’s last day of final exams. Polling includes teams, like Cornell, that do not yet have plans to return to the ice, just as football AP polling continues to include Big Ten and Pac-12 teams before their return to competition.

Cornell, however, is not unique among NCAA men’s hockey teams in its uncertainty for the upcoming season’s schedule: Only one conference, Atlantic Hockey, has released what seems to be a certain schedule for 2020-21. Its first game is scheduled for Nov. 14.

While some schools outside of Atlantic Hockey, like Cornell, offer no sort of schedule for this year on their site, others show a slate in which almost every game is marked as either canceled or postponed.

University of North Dakota, which is No. 1 in the preseason poll, unsurprisingly labels a pair of Halloween weekend games in Lynah Rink as canceled. The two-game set between the Red and the Fighting Hawks was highly anticipated given that the two teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 last season.

North Dakota will instead start its campaign in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s bubble in December. The eight teams will spend December in Omaha in an effort to play hockey safely amid the pandemic.

The Red not only lost three players to graduation, but also seniors forward Morgan Barron and defenseman Alex Green, who signed NHL contracts this year. Barron was Cornell’s top point scorer and Green was the ECAC’s Defensive Player of the Year. All three of the Red’s captains from last year’s championship-caliber squad — Barron, defenseman Yanni Kaldis ’20 and forward Jeff Malott ’20 — are gone.

But, even down several key players prior to the potential upcoming season, Cornell is regarded as a top-10 squad. Depth across the board and the return of a goaltender who’s started for the better part of his last three years on East Hill in senior Matt Galajda means that the Red is still intimidating to the competition.

Cornell, who received four first place votes in the poll, is the highest-ranked ECAC team. Clarkson and Quinnipiac are the only other two teams representing the conference in the top 20, coming in at No. 8 and No. 13, respectively.

While Ivy League schools make up half of the ECAC, it remains unknown whether the rest of the conference will resume play before the Ancient Eight takes the ice. With the Ivy League making COVID-19-related athletic decisions to this point independent of the ECAC’s rulings, it is difficult to predict whether the entire conference will resume play at the same time, if at all.

Currently sitting above Cornell in the rankings are No. 1 North Dakota, No. 2 Boston College, No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth, No. 4 Minnesota State and No. 5 Denver.

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