The University of Wisconsin women's hockey team is ranked No. 5 in both major preseason national polls heading into its season opener Friday at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers host Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday and Saturday, with the puck dropping for each game at 7 p.m.
Wisconsin's streak of four straight NCAA championship game appearances was snapped last season when they finished unranked with an 18-15-3 overall mark and 15-12-1 record in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, good for fourth place.
UW played all year without coach Mark Johnson and standouts Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight, who were representing the U.S. in the Vancouver Olympics. All three are back with the program this season.
Wisconsin earned 87 points to land at No. 5 in the USCHO.com poll, trailing Minnesota Duluth, Cornell, Mercyhurst and Minnesota in the top four, respectively.
The Badgers picked up 115 points in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.
Defending national champion Minnesota Duluth topped both of the polls, earning 148 points with 14 first place votes in the USCHO.com poll and 187 points with 18 first place votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.
In addition to Wisconsin and UMD, Minnesota and Ohio State also represent the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the preseason national rankings. The Gophers landed the No. 4 ranking according to USCHO.com and the No. 6 slot by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine, which also placed OSU among the nation's top 10 teams at No. 10.
Ohio State received votes in the USCHO.com poll, and North Dakota picked up votes in both polls.