WCHA Power Rankings — December 5

Zack Friedli

1. Minnesota Duluth – The Bulldogs started their eight-game road trip with a couple gritty wins in Houghton this weekend. UMD is now 4-0-2 away from Amsoil this year, making them the only D-1 team without a loss on the road. Last week: Sweep @ Michigan Tech (5-3, 5-3). This week: @ Wisconsin.

2. Minnesota – Some Gopher fans were concerned with the results this weekend, thinking Minnesota should have handled Minnesota State a little more easily. Regardless, the fact that the Gophers were able to sweep without some of their stars producing a whole lot is promising. Last week: Sweep vs. Minnesota State (4-2, 3-2). This week: vs. Michigan Tech.

3. Denver – Losing on a penalty shot in overtime to one of the most talented offensive teams in the country isn’t that concerning. Add the facts that the Pios were playing without their two best goalies and on the road, and it’s even less concerning. Last week: Lost @ Colorado College (3-4). This week: @ Bemidji State.

4. Colorado College – The offense came through again (two power play goals and a penalty shot winner), but Joe Howe still wasn’t his best this weekend. He needs to find his game for the Tigers to continue winning theirs. Last week: Won vs. Denver (4-3). This week: vs. Alaska-Anchorage.

5. North Dakota – It’s starting to look like the Sioux are going to flip the switch before the New Year this season – UND is 5-1 in their last six, averaging just over four goals per game during that run. Last week: Sweep @ Alaska-Anchorage (5-2, 4-1). This week: vs. Nebraska-Omaha.

6. Nebraska-Omaha – There’s no need to explain why the Mavericks fell this week. The fact that they agreed to play Alabama-Huntsville on the road is why they didn’t fall another spot or two – they were just trying to do what’s best for a struggling program and the college game. Last week: Split @ Alabama-Huntsville (1-3, 6-2). This week: @ North Dakota.

7. Wisconsin– The Badgers get UMD at home this weekend, and both games will be on TV in the Duluth area. Bulldog fans, this may be the last chance you have to see Justin Schultz, maybe the country’s best defenseman, play against your favorite team. Last week: Off. This week: vs. UMD.

8. Bemidji State – Good thing the Beavers started well against St. Cloud State on Saturday – after a two-goal first, BSU managed only eight shots in the final 40 minutes. Dan Bakala bounced back after giving up three goals on nine shots the night before, a big reason for the win in the series finale. Last week: Won/tied @ St. Cloud State (6-6, 3-1). This week: vs. Denver.

9. Michigan Tech – The Huskies were in a position to win both games this weekend against UMD, but they fell just short in the end. Tech is clearly a much-improved team, and they could very well be fighting for a home playoff series towards the end of the season. Last week: Swept vs. UMD (3-5, 3-5). This week: @ Minnesota.

10. St. Cloud State – Ever since Ryan Faragher and the Huskies got blown out at Mariucci, this team has been in a free fall. Faragher is giving up four goals a night, SCSU is only scoring two and they’re 0-3-2 in their last five because of it. Last week: Lost/tied vs. Bemidji State (6-6, 1-3). This week: Off.

11. Alaska-Anchorage – The Seawolves only have one win in Alaska during WCHA play, a tough reality for a team that has a unique home-ice advantage because of the other team’s travel. With a lot of road games and a tough home schedule, and it’s not too outrageous to think UAA could be winless until mid-February. Last week: Swept vs. North Dakota (2-5, 1-4). This week: @ Colorado College.

12. Minnesota State – Minnesota State is winless in their last seven games (0-6-1), largely because they’re missing almost all of their opportunities. Against the Gophers on Saturday, the Mavericks were 0-for-5 on breakaway. Last week: Swept @ Minnesota (2-4, 2-3). This week: vs. Alabama-Huntsville.

Eric Burton

1.  Minnesota Duluth – (9-2-1 WCHA, 11-3-2) The Bulldogs swept the Michigan Tech Huskies (5-3, 5-3).  The Bulldogs sit one point out of first in the WCHA standings. The Bulldogs have played 10 games at home (7-3), and are undefeated in six road games this year (4-0-2). The Bulldogs are 10-0-2 in the last twelve games, with their last loss coming against Minnesota on Oct. 15. The Bulldogs travel to Madison, Wis., to play the Badgers, who were idle this past weekend.

2. Minnesota – (10-2-0 WCHA, 13-4-1) The Gophers swept the Minnesota State Mavericks in two hard fought wins (3-2, 4-2). Up next for the Golden Gophers is a home series against the upstart Michigan Tech Huskies, who were swept by the UMD Bulldogs last weekend (5-3, 5-3).

3.  Colorado College – (6-4-0 WCHA, 8-4-0) The Tigers beat the Denver Pioneers, 4-3 in overtime on Friday. Friday’s game was an entertaining affair. With the game tied 3-3, the Tigers got the break that they needed. At 3 minutes, 46 seconds of overtime, the Pioneers’ David Makowski hauled down Tiger forward Alexander Krushelnyski on a breakaway. The on-ice official awarded a penalty shot to Krushelnyski, and the sophomore forward made the Pioneers pay by scoring the game-winning goal on the attempt. This week, the Tigers entertain the struggling UAA Seawovles.

4. Denver – (4-3-3 WCHA, 6-5-3) The Denver Pioneers lost a single game to Colorado College Tigers in Colorado Springs on Friday night, 4-3 in overtime. With the game tied, 3-3, Pioneer defenseman David Makowski pulled down Alexander Krushelnyski, and Krushelnyski scored to end the game. The Pioneers travel to Bemidji, Minn., to play the BSU Beavers.

5. North Dakota – (6-6-0, 8-7-1) The Fighting Sioux swept the UAA Seawolves (5-2, 4-1) in Anchorage this past weekend.  With the sweep, the Fighting Sioux improved their all-time record to 17-14-1 against the Seawolves in Anchorage. Sweeps of the Seawolves in Anchorage have been hard to come by for the Fighting Sioux, and that was the first sweep of the Seawolves in Anchorage since the 2008-09 season. The Fighting Sioux will entertain the UNO Mavericks this weekend. The Fighting Sioux appear to have righted the ship as they have won four out of the last five games and five of the last six games. In two short weeks the Sioux have gone from 11th place to fourth-place tie in the WCHA standings.

6.  Nebraska-Omaha – (6-3-3 WCHA, 8-7-3) The Mavericks split with the Alabama Huntsville this past weekend in Nashville. Following the Mavericks 3-1 loss to the Chargers on Friday, UNO head coach Dean Blais said he was “embarrassed.” The Mavericks have had a tough time against the former CHA teams – they’re 1-5-2 record against the BSU Beaver and 2-2 against the UAH Chargers. The Red Mavericks travel to Grand Forks to play the Fighting Sioux this weekend.

7. Wisconsin – (4-7-1 WCHA, 7-8-1) The Badgers were idle this past weekend. The Badgers are the WCHA’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season — the Badgers are 7-3-0 at the Kohl Center and 0-5-1 on the road this season.  This weekend the Badgers will entertain the high-flying UMD Bulldogs, who are 10-0-2 in their last twelve games.

8.  Michigan Tech – (5-6-1 WCHA, 8-7-1) The Michigan Tech Huskies were swept by the UMD Bulldogs this past weekend (5-3, 5-3). Up next, the Huskies will travel to Minnesota to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  The Huskies are 6-3-1 at home and 2-4-0 away from the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena this year.

9. St. Cloud State – (4-5-3 WCHA, 6-8-4) The Huskies took one point from the BSU Beavers this past weekend in St. Cloud. The Huskies were 1-for-8 on the power play in the series against the Beavers. Since beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first game of a home-and-home series, the Huskies are stuck in a five game winless streak (0-3-2).

10. Bemidji State – (4-6-2 WCHA, 6-8-2) The Beavers took three points from the SCSU Huskies in St. Cloud this past weekend. The Beavers penalty kill was 7–for-8 during the series against the Huskies. Beaver senior defenseman Brad Hunt recorded the 100th point of his career with a goal against the Huskies on Saturday.

11. Alaska-Anchorage – (2-9-1 WCHA, 5-9-2) The UAA Seawolves were swept this past weekend by UND Fighting Sioux in Anchorage. The Seawolves travel to Colorado Springs to play the C.C. Tigers this weekend.

12.  Minnesota State – (2-9-1 WCHA, 3-12-0) The Minnesota State Mavericks played the Minnesota Gophers tough all weekend, yet came up empty. This weekend, the Mavericks entertain the UAH Chargers in a non-conference series.

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