The Gophers are the top-rated team in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine preseason women's hockey poll and in uscho.com's poll as well. Both were released Tuesday.
They received all 19 possible first-place votes in USA Today's poll and all 15 in uscho.com's poll after winning the NCAA title last season.
Three other WCHA teams are also in the top eight. Wisconsin is second and North Dakota fifth in both polls. Minnesota Duluth seventh in one, eighth in the other.
The Gophers were 34-5-2 last season, the Badgers 35-5-2.
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The Gophers are first in the Big Ten in multiple statistical categories and this season they have some pitching depth.
When the Gophers took the field last Sunday vs. Illinois State, there was a new player at every position on the field from last year yet Minnesota keeps on winning.
Sara Groenewegen put the Gophers softball team on her shoulders this weekend and carried her teammates to the Big Ten tournament title.
The Gophers opened 0-7 last season and struggled to a 21-30 final record. Their 2016 season starts Friday in Arizona.
The Gophers, who have won eight of their past nine games, have to stay hot in the stretch run to make the NCAA tournament.