BOSTON — A promising freshman class joins some solid sophomores for the University of Maine hockey team.

But few expect the Black Bears to win many games.

Maine, in a poll of conference coaches, was predicted to finish tied for last in the 11-team Hockey East.

The results were announced Tuesday during the league’s annual media day at TD Garden.

Predictably, the coaches, including Red Gendron of Maine, downplayed the poll.

“What matters is that we have to develop our team and our identity, and develop our individual players,” Gendron said, “and the results will take care of themselves.”

The Black Bears finished 11th in a 12-team league the past two years, and was 10th in 2014-15. Hockey East is down to 11 teams with Notre Dame leaving for the Big Ten.

Boston University is the preseason top-ranked team, edging defending champion UMass-Lowell.

Providence was predicted to finish third and Boston College fourth.

Massachusetts, which finished 12th last season, was predicted to finish tied with Maine.

The Black Bears used to be among the top teams but haven’t finished in the top four since the 2011-12 season.

When the 2012-13 team finished 11-19-8, Coach Tim Whitehead was fired, and Gendron took over.

The road has been bumpy. After a 16-15-4 record in 2014, the Black Bears have combined for a 33-67-13 mark over the past three seasons.

Gendron, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, is counting on his rebuilding efforts to show fruit this year.

This is the first time the entire roster contains players he recruited.

“Our junior and senior class have some pretty good players – pretty good players ready to take on bigger roles,” Gendron said. “Obviously last year’s freshman class was one of the most productive in the country.

“We believe as a coaching staff that this year’s freshman class is every bit as good as the one (last year).”

Freshmen accounted for 36 goals last year, or 35 percent of Maine’s production.

Gendron hopes they can produce even more as sophomores, led by Chase Pearson (14 goals/eight assists last year).

Maine graduated its top two scorers – Blaine Byron and Cam Brown, who combined for 22 goals and 58 assists.

Forward Nolan Vesey, one of only four seniors on the roster, is the returning leading scorer (13/10).

But offense wasn’t Maine’s downfall last year. The Black Bears’ defense ranked 52nd out of 60 Division I teams, allowing 3.47 goals a game.

Gendron has added some defensemen to help, but the biggest addition may be freshman goalie Jeremy Swayman – a fourth-round pick of the Boston Bruins in the 2017 draft.

Swayman will compete for time with junior Rob McGovern, who had a 2.99 goals-against average last season.

The Black Bears begin play Sunday with a home exhibition game against Acadia University of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, at 4 p.m. Maine’s regular season begins Oct. 6-7 at Alfond Arena against Connecticut.

Maine will play one game in Portland this year, Nov. 18 against Boston University.

The team also will play in the Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Nov. 24-25.

NOTES: While BU and UMass-Lowell are the teams to beat in the league, Northeastern and Massachusetts feature big-name freshmen. Northeastern forward Eetu Selanne is the son of one of the NHL’s all-time leading scorers, Teemu Selanne. UMass features defenseman Cale Makar, who was selected fourth overall in the 2017 NHL draft by the Colorado Avalanche.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH