DETROIT ( – Gopher Hockey will head into the 2014-15 campaign as the Big Ten’s preseason favorite, the conference announced on Wednesday at the 2015 Big Ten Hockey Media Day at Joe Louis Arena.

Minnesota also led all conference schools with five selections to the annual Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list.

The defending Big Ten regular-season champions and national runner-up at the Frozen Four, Minnesota led the preseason coaches’ poll, followed by Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.

Additionally, Kyle Rau, Adam Wilcox, Mike Reilly, Sam Warning and Brady Skjei representing the Maroon & Gold on the preseason watch list. A total of 16 Big Ten players earned recognition on the list including six unanimous choices – three of them being Gophers (Rau, Wilcox, Reilly).

A Second Team All-American, Wilcox returns to the Gophers as the defending Big Ten Player & Goaltender of the Year as well as a First Team All-Big Ten selection and a finalist for both the Hobey Baker Award and the Mike Richter Award. Also a Second Team All-American, Rau led the Gophers with 40 points last season and earned Second Team All-Big Ten accolades. The senior will serve as team captain for the Maroon & Gold this year.

After being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-Big Ten selection, Reilly went on to become the first Gopher to earn First Team All-America honors since 2009 (Ryan Stoa). Warning and Skjei were both recognized as All-Big Ten Honorable Mention recipients last year following a season that saw both set new career highs for scoring.

The 94th season of Gopher Hockey will see the Maroon & Gold look to defend the inaugural Big Ten regular-season conference title. Minnesota has won three-straight regular-season crowns entering the 2014-15 campaign and has reached the NCAA Frozen Four in two of the last three seasons including a national runner-up finish last year in Philadelphia. Minnesota opens the season with an exhibition game against the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology at Mariucci Arena on Oct.

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