After a one-week hiatus, the WCHA Power Rankings have returned. Zack Friedli and Eric Burton have their rankings below:
Zack Friedli’s Rankings
1. Minnesota – The Gophers actually lost a game in the WCHA, but still hold a three-point lead over UMD and Nebraska-Omaha in the standings. The stretch of rivalries continues this week with a home-and-home against St. Cloud State. Last week: Split @ Wisconsin (1-3, 4-1). This week: @ St. Cloud State Friday, vs. St. Cloud State Saturday.
2. Minnesota Duluth – The Bulldogs continue to be the hottest team in the land, extending their unbeaten streak to eight games with a sweep against Anchorage. Kenny Reiter, Travis Oleksuk and Jack Connolly are on fire, too. Last week: Sweep vs. Alaska-Anchorage (5-0, 3-1). This week: vs. Minnesota State.
3. Denver – The Pioneers ended their small slide with a big rivalry win against Colorado College. Jason Zucker and Drew Shore, DU’s backbone and heart, combined for five points against the Tigers. Last week: Won vs. Colorado College (5-4). This week: vs. Nebraska-Omaha.
4. Colorado College – The Tigers gave up four goals in the second period against Denver, which proved too much for them on Saturday. Joe Howe, one of the better goalies in the country, was chased in that game. Last week: Lost @ Denver (4-5). This week: vs. Wisconsin.
5. Nebraska-Omaha – Omaha earned three tough road points after getting the monkey off their backs against Bemidji State. Oh, and if you haven’t noticed Terry Broadhurst yet, you’re behind the times. Last week: Won/tied @ Bemidji State (3-3, 5-1). This week: @ Denver.
6. St. Cloud State – After a disappointing loss in Mankato on Friday, the Huskies rallied to earn the split with a quick start on Saturday. SCSU is leaning on it’s goaltending a little too much at times, though. Last week: Split @ Minnesota State (2-4, 3-2). This week: vs. Minnesota Friday, @ Minnesota Saturday.
7. Wisconsin – Madison was buzzing with the possibility of a clean-sweep of the Wisconsin-Minnesota sports series on the horizon after a Friday victory, but the Badgers got smoked by the Gophers on the ice Saturday night to kill those hopes. Last week: Split vs. Minnesota (3-1, 1-4). This week: @ Colorado College.
8. North Dakota – The Sioux couldn’t of handpicked a better time for a bye. After getting swept in Minneapolis, North Dakota will be a hungry, rested and ticked-off squad this weekend in Bemidji. Last week: Off. This week: @ Bemidji State (Saturday/Sunday).
9. Michigan Tech – Tech has created a lot of optimism in Houghton, but they’ve started to come back to Earth in the recent weeks. The rested Huskies take the long trip to Anchorage this weekend to face a team without a point in the WCHA. Last week: Off. This week: @ Alaska-Anchorage.
10. Minnesota State – MSU’s win on Friday was the first time they won back-to-back times since January. With a ton of injuries still, the Mavericks are starting to look like a tough-beat once they field a full roster again. Last week: Split vs. St. Cloud State (4-2, 2-3). This week: @ UMD.
11. Bemidji State – The Beavers are struggling right now, having won only once in their last six games. The formula for BSU to win is still simple – solid play from Dan Bakala plus any offense equals a shot at a win. Last week: Lost/Tied vs. Nebraska-Omaha (3-3, 1-5). This week: vs. North Dakota (Saturday/Sunday).
12. Alaska-Anchorage – The Seawolves can’t find any breaks after a promising start to the season. They’re now 0-6 in the WCHA, getting outscored 23-4 during that stretch. The losing streak has to come to an end sometime, right? Last week: Swept @ UMD (0-5, 1-3). This week: vs. Michigan Tech.
Eric Burton’s Rankings
1. Minnesota – (10-2-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) The Gophers split with the Wisconsin Badgers this past weekend in Madison. Up next for the Minnesota Golden Gophers is a home and home series with the pesky St. Cloud State Huskies. Due to the two schools proximity to each other, this in-state series should prove to be an exciting weekend of hockey. With the Gophers’ win on Saturday night, Don Lucia hit the 300 win mark during his time behind the Minnesota bench.
2. Minnesota Duluth – (7-3-2, 5-2-1 WCHA) UMD swept the lowly Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves in Duluth this past weekend. Up next for the Bulldogs, a home series with the Minnesota State Mavericks. UMD goalie Kenny Reiter has been on fire as of late — in the last seven games that Reiter has played, he has 5-0-2 record with a 1.26 goals against average and a .952 saves percentage. With the shutout on Friday night, Reiter tied the UMD record with 9 career shutouts. The Bulldogs are playing great team defense as well, as they are ranked 2nd in the WCHA. Just to illustrate how well the Bulldogs are playing on defense — they have only given up four goals in their last five games.
3. Nebraska-Omaha – (6-5-1, 5-2-1 WCHA) The Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks took three-of-four points from the Bemidji State Beavers this weekend in Bemidji. Saturday’s victory against the Beavers was the first time in eight games that the Mavericks have beaten BSU (1-5-2). Up next for the Mavericks is a trip to Denver to play the Pioneers.
4. Denver – (4-3-2, 3-2-2 WCHA), The Pioneer beat their in-state rival, the Colorado College Tigers, 5-4 at home this past weekend. The return game of that series is in Colorado Springs on December 2nd. That game will be on CBS College Sports at 7:07 MT. Up next for the Pioneers is a home series with the UNO Mavericks.
5. Colorado College – (5-2-0, 3-2-0 WCHA) The Colorado College Tigers lost, 5-4, in a single game this past weekend at their in-state rivals, the Denver Pioneers. The return game of that series is in Colorado Springs on December 2nd. That game will be on CBS College Sports at 7:07 MT. Up next for the Tigers is a home date with the Wisconsin Badgers.
6. Wisconsin – (5-6-1, 4-5-1 WCHA), The Wisconsin Badgers split their series with the high-flying Minnesota Gophers. The Badgers took the Gophers to the woodshed on Friday night, then looked a step slow against the Gophers in the second game of the series. In my opinion, Badgers defenseman Justin Schultz (4-12—16) is one of the best defensemen in the WCHA. Up next for the Badgers is a trip to the Springs to play the high-octane Colorado College Tigers.
Tied-7. North Dakota – (3-6-1, 1-5-0 WCHA) North Dakota was idle this past weekend. Up next for the Fighting Sioux is a trip to Bemidji, Minn., to play the BSU Beavers. The Sioux are off to their worst start since the 1974-75 season, when the Fighting Sioux started the season 1-9-0. The Fighting Sioux hope to regroup against the Bemidji State Beavers, a team the Fighting Sioux have never lost to in the modern era.
Tied-7. Michigan Tech – (6-3-1, 4-3-1 WCHA) The Huskies were idle this past weekend. Up next for the Michigan Tech Huskies is a trip to Alaska to play the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. People from the Michigan Tech fan base are going to ask me why I don’t have the Huskies ranked higher — you can include me in the “not convinced” crowd when it comes to the MTU Huskies. While the Huskies have played better hockey this season, they have also been swept by BSU, and were beaten badly by MSU.
9. St. Cloud State – (5-5-2, 3-2-1 WCHA) The Huskies split with the Minnesota State Mavericks in Mankato this past weekend. The Huskies have been bitten by the injury bug, and are missing two major cogs in their lineup — senior forward Drew LeBlanc (broken leg) and junior goalie Mike Lee (lower body injury). Up next for the Huskies is a home-and-home series with their in-state rival Minnesota Golden Gophers.
10. Bemidji State – (4-7-1, 2-5-1 WCHA) The Bemidji State Beavers are another team that is hard to figure out. They swept the upstart Michigan Tech Huskies in Bemidji after a split with Miami to start the season, but have had trouble getting consistent goaltending, having used all three of their goaltenders so far this season. Their leading scorer, junior forward Jordan George (6-2–8), has been held scoreless in seven-of-12 games so far this season. Up next for the Beavers is the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, who were idle this past weekend.
11. Minnesota State – (3-7-0, 2-4-0 WCHA) The Minnesota State Mavericks have had a tough time with injuries, losing six games in a row recently before winning two of the last three games. The Mavericks split with the SCSU Huskies this past weekend in Mankato. Up next for the Minnesota State Mavericks is a trip to Duluth to play the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. The Mavericks, who are last in goal scoring in the WCHA, are going to have their work cut out for them next weekend against the Bulldogs, who have been a defensive juggernaut the last five games.
12. Alaska-Anchorage – (3-6-1, 0-6-0 WCHA) The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves have an impressive 3-0-1 record in non-conference play, but are a dismal 0-6-0 in conference play. The Seawolves scored a paltry one goal last weekend, and got outscored 8-1 as the Bulldogs swept the Seawolves in Duluth. Up next for the Seawolves is a home series with the MTU Huskies.