Big Ten Hockey Media Day in Detroit, Michigan is off to a very good start for the Golden Gophers men's hockey team. The conference picked Minnesota as the preseason favorite to win the conference for a second consecutive year (the second year of the Big Ten hockey conference), and five Gophers were named to the Preseason Players to Watch list.
The Gophers cruised to a 14-3-3-0 conference record last year en route to winning the inaugural Big Ten Championship. They finished the season 28-7-6 overall and entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, where they advanced to the National Championship game and lost to Union by a score of 7-4.
Michigan was picked second in the poll, followed by Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.
Forwards Kyle Rau and Sam Warning, defensemen Brady Skjei and Mike Reilly, along with goalie Adam Wilcox were named to the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list. Rau, Wilcox and Reilly were three of six unanimous choices on the 16-player watch list. The Star Tribune has the full list.
Wilcox is coming off a season in which he was named both Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Goalie of the Year. Reilly was a First-Team All-America selection and the conference's defensive player of the year. Rau was recently named the Gophers 2014-15 team captain.
Minnesota opens the season Oct. 4 with an exhibition game against Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. We assume Don Lucia's club will be a slight favorite.