Canisius College returns 24 players from last season's squad which won Atlantic Hockey's regular season title.
But it was the player they didn't return which put the Golden Griffins at No. 5 in the Atlantic Hockey preseason coaches' poll. Goaltender Charles Williams, a fifth-year senior transfer, backstopped the Griffs to a 21-11-7 overall record and to a spot in the conference semifinals. Williams, who was the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Year last season, is gone to graduation and his successor in net is not clear.
Still, the Griffs return the fourth highest goal total in the NCAA this season, as 105 of the team’s 107 goals scored last season were scored by a player on the 2017-18 roster. Meaning the Griffs should be in the mix under first-year coach Trevor Large.
Meanwhile Niagara was picked to finish last in the 11-team league as the Purple Eagles look to rebuild from three straight dismal seasons in which they went 18-84.
"I've been really impressed by the players here and their intent and the legacy they want to leave," first-year head coach Jason Lammers said. "We're excited to compete and prove what a special league this is."
Niagara begins the season on Saturday playing at Colgate at 4 p.m. The Purple Eagles open at Dwyer on Friday, Oct. 6, when they host conference rival Robert Morris at 7:05 p.m.
Canisius plays Ryerson in an exhibition game on Oct. 6 before opening the regular season Oct. 13-14 with a conference series against Robert Morris in HarborCenter.
Defending tournament champion Air Force was voted as the preseason favorite by the coaches followed by: Robert Morris, Army West Point, RIT, Canisius, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Bentley, AIC, Sacred Heart and Niagara.