Badgers women's hockey enters season at No. 1 - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers women's hockey enters season at No. 1

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MADISON, Wis. (Per UW Athletics) – The Wisconsin women’s hockey team starts the 2016-17 season ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division I Women’s Poll, as announced by the organization on Monday. The team is coming off a 35-4-1 campaign last year, winning the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and going to its ninth NCAA Frozen Four appearance in the last 11 years.

Wisconsin received 143 votes in the poll, along with 10 of the 15 first-place votes. This marks the first time that the Badgers will start the season ranked No. 1 overall since the 2011-12 season. The Badgers were also recently picked as the favorites to win the WCHA, collecting six out of the eight first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll.

Along with Wisconsin, fellow WCHA members Minnesota and North Dakota also earned a top-10 ranking in the USCHO.com poll. Two-time defending NCAA champion Minnesota begins the season ranked second, receiving three first-place votes and 135 points overall, while North Dakota comes in at sixth, earning 60 points.

The only other team receiving first-place votes is 2015 NCAA runner-up Boston College, and they start the season at No. 3 with 121 points. Quinnipiac is ranked fourth with 93 points and Clarkson enters the season at No. 5 with 82 votes. UW faces Clarkson for the second time in program history, Oct. 14-15, in Potsdam, New York.

Rounding out the top 10 is North Dakota at No. 6, followed by Princeton, Colgate, Northeastern and Boston University. WCHA rivals Bemidji State and Minnesota-Duluth are the first two teams outside of the top 10.

Wisconsin returns the 2016 USCHO Player of the Year in goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens, who was voted as the conference’s preseason player of the year after earning the WCHA Player of the Year honor last season. The Badgers also bring back junior forward Annie Pankowski, a second-team All-American last year.

The Badgers open the season on the road at St. Cloud State this weekend, with the first game starting at 6 p.m. on Friday. UW meets the Huskies again on Saturday at 3 p.m. before returning home in preparation for its first series at LaBahn Arena on Oct. 7-8 against Ohio State.

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