The Union College men’s ice hockey team was ranked No. 5 in the first USCHO.com poll released on Monday afternoon. The No. 5 ranking is the highest preseason ranking in the program’s 22 year history at the Division I level. Union has appeared in the USCHO.com poll for 64 consecutive weeks since the Dec. 7, 2009 rankings, extending a school record. The Dutchmen earned 789 points in the poll, and were the highest ranked ECAC Hockey team, above No. 6 Cornell (631 points).

Last season, in Rick Bennett’s first year as head coach, Union (26-8-7, 14-4-4 ECAC Hockey) navigated a demanding schedule to earn its second consecutive Cleary Cup, and first ever Whitelaw Cup as ECAC Hockey regular season and tournament champions.

Union earned a trip to the Frozen Four with wins over UMass-Lowell and Michigan State in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Ferris State, 3-1, in the national semifinals.

Union returns 22 letterwinners from a team that led the nation in scoring defense (1.83 goals allowed per game), finished sixth in scoring offense (3.49 goals per game), and had the nation’s No. 4 power play (24.2%) and No. 12 penalty kill (84.5%).

Union opens up the regular season at home on Oct. 6 against Merrimack at 7:00 p.m.

The preceding information was provided by Jeffrey Weinstein, the Assistant Sports Information Director for Union College.