Updated: September 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm
Colorado College coach Scott Owens puts little stock in preseason polls, knowing that the inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference schedule promises to be a meat grinder for all eight teams.
The Tigers were picked to place seventh by league media, it was announced Thursday.
"The league will be strong and everybody can beat anyone," Owens said during a break in the first NCHC media day at Minneapolis' Target Center. "There is not a lot of difference between Nos. 3-8."
Miami was the top pick with seven out of a possible 16 first-place votes. The RedHawks return 17 players from the final Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champions, including Hobey Baker hopefuls Austin Czarnik (40 points, 26 assists), a junior, and sophomore Riley Barber (39, 24 assists).
Colorado College returns seniors Alexander Krushelnyski (43 points, 28 assists), Archie Skalbeck (23, 12 goals) and Eamonn McDermott (23, 20 assists).
North Dakota was picked second with five first-place votes. UND returns forwards Rocco Grimaldi (36, 23 assists) and Mark MacMillan (25, 13 goals) and defenseman Dillon Simpson (24, 19 assists).
Third-place St. Cloud State received four first-place votes. The Huskies return 22, the most of any NCHC team, including senior Nic Dowd (38, 24 assists); sophomores Jonny Brodzinski (33, 22 goals) and Kalle Kossila (33, 18 assists); and junior goalie Ryan Faragher (24-15-1, 2.28 goals-allowed average, .914 save percentage).
Denver, under new coach Jim Montgomery, was fourth thanks to the return of junior Joey LaLeggia (29, 18 assists) and senior David Makowski (27, 18 assists).
Fifth-place Western Michigan returns junior goalie Frank Slubowski (19-11-8, 2.00, .918) and senior Chase Balisy (25 points, 14 assists). Minnesota-Duluth has sophomores Austin Farley (34, 18 assists) and Tony Cameranesi (34, 20 assists) back. Nebraska-Omaha was picked last, but returns 2013 Hobey Baker Top 10 finalist and senior Ryan Walters (52, 30 assists).
"(Polls are) people's opinions and it is difficult for us to swallow since we're in last place," Walters said. "We're going to try to prove some people wrong this year."
The regular-season championship trophy is the Spencer & Julie Penrose Memorial Cup. . The league will hand out the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year Award. . CC single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. ... Freshman Zach Aman underwent surgery to replace a torn meniscus ligament tear in his right knee Monday. The forward expects to return in time for the Tigers' season-openers Oct. 18-19. He joins defenseman sophomore Michael King, who is recovering from offseason hip surgery. King expects to me back for game action in November.
NCHC media preseason poll
Team (first-place votes) Pts
1. Miami (7) 115
2. North Dakota (5) 109
3. St. Cloud State (4) 99
4. Denver 66
5. Western Michigan 61
6. Minnesota-Duluth 43
7. Colorado College 42
8. Nebraska-Omaha 41