CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The puck drops for the first time in the 2022-’23 men’s college hockey season on October 1 for both Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The Eastern College Athletic Conference released both the preseason coaches’ and media poll Wednesday.

The Engineers and Dutchmen finished sixth and seventh in last year’s ECAC standings, respectively, and both teams find themselves in familiar territory in the preseason coaches’ poll.

RPI head coach Dave Smith’s squad is projected to place sixth once again after going 10-12 in conference play a season ago. Union has a new leader on the bench this year – Josh Hague – and his Dutchmen come in at the eight-spot in the poll following a 9-11-2 mark in league play.

On the flip side, the media poll has Union slotted sixth and RPI seventh in a tie with St. Lawrence University.

Hague has no qualms with the Dutchmen’s ranking, but it does serve as fuel to surpass their middle-of-the-road expectations.

“I think we have a good group,” said Hague. “I think we can compete with anyone. I think the league is going to be really tight this year, so yeah, putting us in that group is fair. It’s probably what we deserve, but we’re going to try to prove everybody wrong there, and finish higher up.”

Smith recognizes the depth of the ECAC this year, and simply has his sights set on a top-four finish.

“I thought we had a nice rebound-type year, with a good playoff,” said Smith. “(We) pushed Harvard, the eventual league champ, to the brink, so I think it does make sense to put us at six. I think anyone who creeps into the top four, which can happen, is going to have an excellent year.”

The Engineers open up the season at home against Colgate University in a scrimmage; their regular season officially starts October 7 in Troy, N.Y., against Mercyhurst University.

Union gets right into regular season play October 1, welcoming in Rochester Institute of Technology.

You can find the full coaches’ poll below:

Rank, Team, (first place votes), Points

  1. Quinnipiac (8) 118
  2. Harvard (4) 109
  3. Clarkson 105
  4. Cornell 90
  5. Colgate 77
  6. Rensselaer 70
  7. St. Lawrence 57
  8. Union 45
  9. Dartmouth 43
  10. Yale 32
  11. Brown 26
  12. Princeton 20