We’re almost a third of the way through the season, meaning a lot of teams have had plenty of chances to show us their true colors. A few teams have surprised us with their play on the ice, but others are who were though they were. Eric Burton and Zack Friedli have the rankings below.
1. Minnesota Duluth – UMD upped its unbeaten streak to ten games with another home sweep, this time running over Mankato. The Bulldogs will have to play well on the road to stay red-hot, as they won’t entertain the fans at Amsoil again until late-January. Last week: Sweep vs. Minnesota State (5-2, 7-3). This week: Off.
2. Minnesota – The Gophers lost again on Friday night, but, like last weekend, rallied on Saturday for a big win. The lackluster play on Fridays is concerning, but the little errors are a lot easier to fix than the giant ones they’ve had in the past few seasons. Last week: Split vs. St. Cloud State (3-4, 5-0). This week: @ Michigan State.
3. Denver – The Pioneers have busted out of their mini-slump pretty nicely – back-to-back wins followed by a comeback against Nebraska-Omaha to earn a tie. Denver is oh-so-close to finally putting it all together, even with the injuries between the pipes. Last week: Won/tied vs. Nebraska-Omaha (7-3, 3-3). This week: vs. Princeton (Friday), vs. Miami (Saturday).
4. Colorado College – Scott Owens decided to start Josh Thorimbert over Joe Howe this weekend, and it paid off. Thorimbert stopped 55 of 58 shots to help the Tigers sweep Wisconsin. CC, like Denver, shows signs of their potential. Finding the right way to piece together the puzzle is the tricky part. Last week: Sweep vs. Wisconsin (4-2, 4-1). This week: @ North Dakota.
5. St. Cloud State – The Huskies demonstrated Friday that they have the ability to give good teams fits, but it will take perfect execution of chances to do so. What happens when SCSU isn’t ultra-opportunistic? Games like the beating they took on Saturday. Last week: Split vs. Minnesota (4-3, 0-5). This week: @ Nebraska-Omaha (Saturday/Sunday).
6. Nebraska-Omaha – The Mavericks have let points slip away twice in the last couple weekends, this time blowing a three-goal lead in Denver on Saturday. Had UNO found a way to play 60 minutes in those games, they’d be right at the top of the WCHA. However, they haven’t, and if they are traveling in March for the first round of the playoffs, we’ll know why. Last week: Lost/Tied @ Denver (3-7, 3-3). This week: vs. St. Cloud State (Saturday/Sunday).
7. North Dakota – Sure, the big third period on Saturday was a nice change of pace for the Sioux. But overall, not an impressive showing against Bemidji State. As if UND’s weekend wasn’t already bad enough after learning Rocco Grimaldi will be out for at least six weeks. Last week: Split @ Bemidji State (5-2, 0-1). This week: vs. Colorado College.
8. Wisconsin – The Badgers are a strange team. One night they play great, the next they lay an egg. The youth definitely shows for the boys in red and white, so UW fans have to hope more experience leads to more consistency as the season plays out. For now, it’s a waiting game in Madison. Last week: Swept @ Colorado College (2-4, 1-4). This week: vs. Mercyhurst.
9. Michigan Tech – Mel Pearson’s club was finally able to get a win away from Houghton on Saturday night, a 5-0 victory that marked the first MTU road shutout since December 2006. The Huskies are in fifth place right now, but to stay there they have to win more on the road. A ridiculous away schedule in the second half will be a giant test for them. Last week: Split @ Alaska-Anchorage (1-3, 5-0). This week: @ St. Lawrence.
10. Minnesota State – The Mavericks sure had their chances against UMD this weekend, but their inability to score big goals allowed the Bulldogs to blow them out both nights. They continue to get more healthy bodies back though, and will probably find themselves with a few more chances to knock off ranked opponents as the season progresses. Last week: Swept @ UMD (2-5, 3-7). This week: vs. Alaska-Anchorage.
11. Bemidji State – In the Beavers’ last two wins they’ve outscored their opponents by a whopping 4-2 margin. BSU really can’t score, and they’re 2-6 in their last eight because of it. With a tough conference schedule coming up, points should be on every Bemidji player’s Christmas list. Last week: Split vs. North Dakota (2-5, 0-1). This week: Off.
12. Alaska-Anchorage – The first conference win sure was nice on Friday, but turning right around with a 5-0 loss to a team that doesn’t win on the road is brutal. The Seawolves have scored one goal or less in seven of their last eight games, which makes it kind of tough to win. Last week: Split vs. Michigan Tech (3-1, 0-5). This week: @ Minnesota State.
1. Minnesota – (8-2-0 WCHA, 11-3-0) Split a home and home series with Saint Cloud State, This weekend the Gophers travel to East Lansing to play the Michigan State Spartans. The Gophers have split their last two WCHA series.
2. Minnesota Duluth – (7-2-1 WCHA, 9-3-2) The Bulldogs swept the hapless Minnesota State Mavericks in Duluth this past weekend. This weekend the Bulldogs are idle. The Bulldogs have played 10 of their first 14 games at home.
3. Denver – (4-2-3 WCHA, 5-3-3) Took three points from Nebraska Omaha this past weekend, This week home against Princeton and Miami.
4. Colorado College – (5-2-0 WCHA, 7-2-0) The Tigers Swept the Wisconsin Badgers and travel to Grand Forks, ND to play the Fighting Sioux.
5. St. Cloud State – (4-3-1 WCHA, 6-6-2) The Huskies split with the Minnesota Gophers this past weekend. This weekend the Huskies travel to Omaha Nebraska to play the Mavericks.
6. Nebraska-Omaha – (5-3-2 WCHA, 6-6-2) The Mavericks took one point from the Pioneers in Denver this past weekend. This weekend the Mavericks are at home to play the SCSU Huskies.
7. Michigan Tech – (5-4-1 WCHA, 7-4-1) The Tech Huskies split with the UAA Seawolves in Anchorage this past weekend. This weekend the Huskies travel to Canton, NY to play St. Lawrence in a non-conference tilt. From the interesting statistics department, the Huskies are 6-1-1 in Houghton, Michigan but 1-3-0 on the road.
8. Wisconsin – (4-7-1 WCHA, 5-8-1) The Badgers were swept by the Tigers this past weekend in Colorado Springs. This weekend the Badgers entertain the Mercyhurst Lakers in a non-conference tilt. From the interesting statistics department, the Badgers are 5-3-0 at home and a dismal 0-5-1 on the road.
9. Bemidji State – (3-6-1 WCHA, 5-8-1) The Beavers split with the UND Fighting Sioux this past weekend. The win on Sunday night ended a 40 year drought against the Fighting Sioux. The Beavers are off this weekend.
10. North Dakota – (2-6-0, 4-7-1) The Fighting Sioux split with the BSU Beavers in Bemidji this past weekend. This weekend the Sioux entertain the Colorado College Tigers. The Fighting Sioux are 3-2-1 at home and have dismal 1-5-0 record on the road. From the interesting statistics department, the Fighting Sioux have given up 9 goals in five games and have a 2-3 record. The Fighting Sioux are fifth in the WCHA in defense but 10th in the WCHA in scoring.
11. Minnesota State – (2-6-0 WCHA, 3-9-0) The Mavericks were swept in the Amsoil arena this past weekend by the UMD Bulldogs. This weekend the Mavericks travel to Anchorage to play the UAA Seawolves.
12. Alaska-Anchorage – (1-7-0 WCHA, 4-7-1) The Seawolves split with the Tech Huskies this past weekend in Anchorage, Alasaka, this weekend the Seawolves entertain the Minnesota State Mavericks. The Seawolves ended a six game winless streak with their victory over the Huskies on Friday night.