After their sixth appearance in the NCAA Hockey Tournament in school history last season and the second time under head coach Andy Murray, the Western Michigan Broncos are prepping for their 2017-2018 season that begins next week.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is holding their media day today in St. Paul, Minnesota. In ahead of the event, the NCHC announced their Preseason Poll taken from local media and a few national media members. The Broncos were projected as sixth out of the eight-school conference, just points away from their rival Miami Redhawks.

Last season, the Broncos were predicted to finish in seventh, but would finish in third in the NCHC. They would knock of the Omaha Mavericks in their three-game first-round series at home before falling to the Denver Pioneers in the semis during the Frozen Faceoff.

This year's preseason poll has Denver winning the conference in unanimous fashion, receiving all 30 first-place votes. The defending NCAA champion Pioneers return several members of last year's squad. The Broncos will see Denver for just one weekend this season, playing host at Lawson Arena November 3rd and 4th.

Western will be considerably young this season, as they have four seniors on their roster and the addition of nine true freshman. Andy Murray returns for his seventh season behind the bench and coming off a season where he earned the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year honor from the NCHC. Also returning is Three Stars Award winner Ben Blacker, who manned the Bronco pipes for a better part of last season.

The Broncos lost their top three scorers from last season, with Matheson Iacopelli and Griffin Molino making the move to play professionally early. Captain Sheldon Dries graduated and also has been given a chance to play pro.

Returning to potentially lead the way is sophomore Wade Allison, who has been drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers before coming to Western. He scored 12 goals in his rookie campaign. Junior Colt Conrad will look to add some offensive punch after scoring a career-high 13 goals last season in 40 games.

The Broncos open their season with an exhibition against Wilfred Laurier University at Lawson on Saturday, September 30th. Due to Western's 7pm football game with Ball State at Waldo Stadium, the exhibition has been moved up to 1pm. The regular season opens Friday, October 6th, as the Broncos host the Ferris State Bulldogs.

Just to get you into a college hockey mood, here's a recap of last season!