Coming off back-to-back conference championships, the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ men’s hockey team was voted second in the Big Ten’s preseason poll, via results that were released on Monday. Michigan has been deemed the favorite to win the conference, with Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin following Minnesota in the preseason voting for the six-team league.
Gophers’ forwards Justin Kloos and Hudson Fasching were also put on the 2015-16 Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list, and Fasching was a unanimous selection. Both players are juniors, and head coach Don Lucia announced Fasching as one of three alternate captains for the coming season earlier this month. Kloos was named team captain in early August, and he is Minnesota’s active leading scorer with 64 points (29 goals, 35 assists) in 80 career games.
Fasching and Kloos are both Minnesota natives, from Burnsville and Lakeville respectively.
The Golden Gophers have won four straight regular season conference titles, and they also won the Big Ten tournament title last year. Over the last four seasons, with a NCAA Tournament berth in each campaign and two advancements to the Frozen Four (2012 and 2014), no team in the country has more than Minnesota’s 105 wins.
Even with the runner-up vote in the Big Ten’s preseason poll, expectations surrounding Lucia and his Golden Gophers’ squad are (and should be) higher than that. Anything less than a run to the Frozen Four would be a disappointment for anyone attached to the program, and fans would surely like to see another national title banner added to the rafters at Mariucci Arena.
The Golden Gophers’ men’s hockey team starts their 2015-16 season at home on Oct. 10 against Vermont, and the Big Ten opener will be at home against Ohio State on Dec. 4.