The reigning Atlantic Hockey Champions, the Canisius College hockey team was picked fourth of 12 teams in the league’s annual preseason poll, announced on Tuesday.
Canisius trailed defending regular-season champion Niagara, who placed first in the rankings, in addition to Mercyhurst and Air Force, who were tied for second. The Griffs were also one of four schools to receive first-place votes by the league’s head coaches with only Mercyhurst (four first-place votes) earning more than the Griffs' three selections at the top of the rankings.
The Griffs won the 2013 Atlantic Hockey Championship as the seventh seed for the league’s tournament, defeating each of the three schools ahead of them in the preseason poll. Canisius swept second-seeded Air Force in a best-of-three quarterfinal series before topping Niagara in the league’s semifinals, 5-3, and Mercyhurst in the title game, 7-2.
In addition, the fourth-place prediction matches the program’s highest placement in the preseason poll, also being slated fourth during the 2005-06 campaign. RIT was picked to finish fifth in the poll and was followed by Connecticut, Robert Morris, Holy Cross, Bentley, Army, AIC and Sacred Heart.
Canisius returns 22 letterwinners from its championship-winning squad, including 10 of the team’s top 12 scorers in addition to the national leader in saves. Canisius advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history last season, while also finishing the season ranked 19th in the final USCHO.com national poll, the highest placement in the program’s history.