Wildcat hockey was No. 19 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I preseason coaches’ poll.
Arizona ended its 2012-13 campaign at No. 20, just missing out on the 20-team national tournament, leap-frogged by automatic qualifiers.
“Being in the top-20 is a cool thing, but I think we’re much better than that and by the end of the year, we’ll be much higher,” head coach Sean Hogan said.
With one of, if not the toughest schedule in the ACHA this season, the Wildcats will have plenty of chances to climb up the poll. Out of 40 total games, 25 are against top-20 opponents and 17 are against top-10. Hogan’s squad will play 12 contests against top-five teams as well.
“I think we feel we’re a better team than what we’re ranked now,” said new captain and senior forward Ansel Ivens-Anderson. “But we play a lot of teams that are ranked high, so we just have to play our best in those games and capitalize.”
Last season the Wildcats went 15-22-1, accumulating the highest win count since 2007-08 when they were 22-8-1. Their seven wins against top-10 teams in 2012-13 were the program’s most in 16 years.
Regardless, Arizona has been absent from the national tournament since 2005-06. In the past 11 years, that has been Arizona’s lone appearance.
“Obviously we hope to finish in the top 10 or 20, but the main goal is not where we finish in the rankings,” senior forward Andrew Murmes said. “It’s about making the tournament, making a statement and hopefully getting to the National Championship and winning that game.”
The Wildcats begin the season this Friday in Flagstaff, Ariz., at NAU.
—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo