The Gophers men’s hockey team opened the 2014-15 season as the No. 1-ranked team in the country but ended it with a first-round exit in the NCAA tournament. Apparently, the pollsters noticed.

Minnesota enters the 2015-16 season ranked No. 9 in the U.S. College Hockey Online preseason poll released Monday, and the Gophers are looking up at a few regional rivals.

Minnesota Duluth, the team that ended the Gophers season with a 4-1 rout in the NCAA Northeast Regional, is ranked No. 2, just behind Boston College. Boston University is No. 3, followed by North Dakota, Denver and Minnesota State Mankato. Defending NCAA champion Providence is No. 7, followed by Harvard, the Gophers and Nebraska Omaha.

Boston College received 19 of 50 first-place votes, while UMD had 12. MSU Mankato and the Gophers each had one.

U picked second in Big Ten

The Gophers have won back-to-back Big Ten championships, but they’re picked to finish second behind Michigan by the conference coaches in their preseason poll. The Wolverines, No. 13 in the USCHO poll, lead the Big Ten coaches rankings, followed by the Gophers, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Gophers forwards Justin Kloos and Hudson Fasching are on the Big Ten Players to Watch list.