Men's hockey opens at No. 17

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College hockey is upon us. That became more apparent on Monday when the USCHO.com and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Polls released their first prognostication for the 2011-12 campaign.

The young (20 of 26 skaters are either sophomores or freshmen) Badgers check in at No. 17 in the USCHO.com Poll and in the receiving votes category of the USA Today Poll, which equates to No. 18. That's three spots higher than the Badgers ended the 2010-11 season in both polls.

Notre Dame comes in at No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll, while Miami tops the USA Today survey. For the WCHA, North Dakota (3/3, Denver (4/4), Colorado College (7/7), defending NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth (8/10), Nebraska Omaha (14/14) and Minnesota (19/RV), join the Badgers in the rankings.

Some context regarding preseason polls. The 2006 NCAA champion Badgers opened the season ranked No. 10, the 2010 NCAA runner-up Badgers opened at No. 13 and No. 14 and the 2003-04 Badgers opened by receiving votes, but went on a 15-game unbeaten streak early on and were within an overtime goal of the Frozen Four.

Official practice for the Badgers begins Saturday, while the Kohl Center reawakens Friday, Oct. 7 when Northern Michigan visits Madison.



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