Following a season full of firsts last year, the 2017-18 Robert Morris Women’s hockey team is off to a similar start. The preseason USCHO,com poll for Division I Women’s hockey was released today, and the Colonials are ranked No. 10, having earned 24 votes.
This is the first time the team has been ranked in the preseason poll. It previously had received votes in the 2014 and 2012 polls. RMU is the only ranked team among College Hockey America counterparts, although rival Mercyhurst was in the others receiving votes category.
The Colonials were ranked as high as seventh in the USCHO.com poll last season, their best season in program history. They finished with a 24-5-6 record, won the CHA regular-season and post-season championships, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
This year, the team returns four of its top five point scorers on offense. That includes reigning conference MVP in Brittany Howard (50 points) and conference and WHCA national rookie of the year Jaycee Gebhard (46 points).
On defense, five of the top six from last year’s championship squad return. Kirsten Welsh, an all-CHA first team member, had 23 points last season. They also return two goalies, including Lauren Bailey who went 7-2-1 with a .911 save percentage a year ago.
Along with this, the Colonials have eight newcomers. They add five forwards, two defenders, and a goalie. All are freshmen except Sarah Lecavalier, a sophomore forward that transferred from the University of North Dakota.
The Colonials open play this Saturday with an exhibition against Ryerson, a Canadian university. That game will be at 7:05 pm at the Island Sports Center. They open the regular season with 10 straight road games, beginning Oct. 7 against Minnesota State.
UPDATE 9/19: The Robert Morris women were also ranked No. 10 in the USA Hockey / USA Today poll.