WCHA Power Rankings: Week 20

Wcha_newlogo_menHere is the week 20 WCHA Power Rankings. This season, I have been doing the WCHA Power Rankings with Taylor Seibel, who is a contributor for The Hockey Writers Combine.

1.  Saint Cloud State – (19-12-1, WCHA 16-7-1) – This past weekend, the Huskies split (3-4 L – 5-2 W) their weekend series with the Colorado College Tigers in Colorado Springs. This weekend, the Huskies entertain the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Huskies have split the last two series they have played in. Pairwise Ranking 10.

2. Minnesota – (21-6-5, WCHA 13-6-5) – This past weekend, the Minnesota Gophers took (5-3 W – 2-2 T) three points in their weekend series with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, who have won “one” game, in their last ten games (1-7-2). This weekend, the Gophers play the Denver Pioneers at Mariucci Arena. Fun fact, the Gophers have swept one “conference” series this season, Alaska Anchorage 01/11-01/12. The Gophers went an impressive 8-0-0 in their non-conference play. Pairwise Ranking 2.

3University of North Dakota – (17-9-6, WCHA 12-6-6) – This past weekend, UND split (4-5 L – 6-1 L) their weekend series with the Denver Pioneers, at Magness Arena. This weekend, UND entertains the Bemidji State Beavers at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. Pairwise Ranking 6.

4. Minnesota State Mankato – (20-9-3, WCHA 14-9-1) – This past weekend, the Mavericks were off. This weekend, the Purple Mavericks travel to Colorado Springs to play the Tigers. Pairwise Ranking 7.

5.  Nebraska Omaha – (18-12-2, WCHA 14-8-2) – This past weekend, the Mavericks lost their exhibition game against the U-18 team 2-3. This weekend, the Red Mavericks entertain the Wisconsin Badgers. Friday’s game between the Mavericks and the Badgers will be on NBCSN. Pairwise Ranking 20t.

6. Denver University – (16-10-5, WCHA 11-8-5) – This past weekend, the Denver Pioneers split (5-4 W – 1-6 L) their weekend series with the University of North Dakota at Magness Arena. This weekend, the Pioneers travel to Minnesota to play the Gophers at Mariucci Arena. The Pioneers in essence, are competing with the Badgers for the last home playoff spot.  Pairwise Ranking 13t.

7.  Wisconsin – (14-11-7, WCHA 10-7-7) – The Wisconsin Badgers  split (5-0 w – 2-3 L O.T.) their non-conference series with future conference foe Penn State at the Kohl Center during a Sunday, Monday series. After starting the season 1-7-3, the Badgers have gone an amazing 13-4-4. This weekend, the Badgers travel to Nebraska-Omaha to play the Mavericks in an important two game series. The Badgers in essence, are competing with the Pioneers for the last home playoff spot.  Friday’s game between the Mavericks and the Badgers will be on NBCSN. Pairwise Ranking 28.

8.  Colorado College – (12-15-5, WCHA 9-11-4) – This past weekend, the Colorado College Tigers split (4-3 W – 2-5 L) their weekend series with the Saint Cloud State Huskies at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This weekend, the Tigers entertain the Minnesota State Mavericks. Pairwise Ranking 30.

9. Minnesota Duluth – (10-17-4, WCHA 8-13-5) – This past weekend, the Bulldogs took a single point (2-4 L – 1-1 T) in their weekend series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Bulldogs have had a tough go recently, taking only a single point in each of their last two series and have one win in their last 10 games 1-7-2. This weekend that should change, as the Bulldogs entertain the Alabama Huntsville Chargers (1-18-1) at Amsoil Arena.

10. Michigan Tech – (10-16-4, WCHA 6-14-4) – This past week, the Huskies the Huskies were off. The Michigan Tech Huskies travel to Saint Cloud Minnesota to play the Saint Cloud State Huskies at the National Hockey Center in the battle of the Dogs.

11. Bemidji State – (6-17-7, WCHA 5-13-6) – This past weekend, the Beavers were off. Thiks weekend, the Beavers travel down Highway 2 to play the University of North Dakota in a two game series at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

12. Alaska Anchorage – (4-19-7, WCHA 2-18-6) – This past weekend, the Seawolves were off. This weekend, the Seawolves play their cross state rivals the Nanooks in the Governor’s Cup. The Seawolves travel to Fairbanks on Friday and then entertain the Nanooks on Saturday night. The Seawolves have won one game since December 1, 2012, going 1-14-3.

Taylor Seibel’s WCHA Power Rankings

1.  St. Cloud State – (19-12-1, 16-7-1 WCHA) – The Huskies managed only a split against the Tigers this weekend, but still have a strong hold to the top spot in the WCHA thanks in part to slip-ups from Minnesota and North Dakota.  St. Cloud State has an excellent chance at gaining four points next weekend as the SCSU Huskies host the Michigan Tech Huskies, a team that SCSU has not lost to at home in over a decade.

2. Minnesota – (21-6-5, 13-6-5 WCHA) – The Gophers managed three points on the weekend against Minnesota Duluth, and struggled at times against the visiting Bulldogs.  While Minnesota still has a chance at winning the MacNaughton, the point they dropped on Saturday could prove decisive.  It also gave North Dakota a little bit of room to sneak the #2 spot away from the Gophers.  Next weekend, Denver travels up to Mariucci for WCHA play.

3. North Dakota – (17-9-6, 12-6-6 WCHA) – North Dakota struggled mightily against Denver’s powerplay on Friday, but found a way to largely control Denver’s man advantage on Saturday.  The result was a weekend split between these two rivals.  North Dakota says three points back of St. Cloud and one point back of Minnesota in the race for the MacNaughton.  North Dakota hosts Bemidji State next weekend, and four points will be crucial for UND’s hopes of winning the Cup.

4. Nebraska Omaha – (18-12-2, 14-8-2 WCHA) – The Mavericks were essentially off this past weekend, or at least some of the players thought so, as Omaha was defeated by the USA Under-18 squad.  To be fair, that same Under-18 squad has registered draws against Minnesota and Notre Dame on the season.  While the Mavericks are in good position for home ice, a strong showing next weekend at home against Wisconsin could cement their spot in the top half.

5. Minnesota State – (20-9-3, 14-9-1 WCHA) – The Mavericks of Mankato were also off this weekend.  In a similar position to Omaha, Mankato has a chance to solidify their spot as a top half team next weekend if they can take four points from Colorado College down in Colorado Springs.  Anything less, and it will be a shakier proposition as North Dakota comes down to Mankato to close out the regular season.

6. Denver – (16-10-5, 11-8-5 WCHA) – Denver played quite well in their victory over North Dakota on Friday, but failed to respond effectively on Saturday, and the Pioneers were trounced by the Visiting squad from Grand Forks.  The split drew the Pioneers even with Wisconsin heading into the final two weekends of the season.  Given that Denver loses the tiebreaker with Wisconsin, it makes any points that they can gather next weekend at Minnesota that much more important to their chances for home ice.

7. Wisconsin – (14-10-7, 10-7-7 WCHA) – The Badgers defeated Penn State last night in the first game of an odd Sunday-Monday series.  The victory shot Wisconsin up to an NCAA bubble squad.  The Badgers are also on the bubble when it comes to gaining home ice in the WCHA Tournament.  Currently, Wisconsin is tied with Denver for the 6th and final spot.  Next weekend, the Badgers travel to Omaha to take on the Mavericks in a key series for both squads.

8. Colorado College – (12-15-5, 9-11-4 WCHA) – The Tigers surprised many in the WCHA with their victory over St. Cloud on Friday, but were unable to complete the sweep, losing on Saturday.  Barring surprising results elsewhere in the conference, it is likely that CC will remain in the #8 slot in the conference.  Any chance at home ice would start next weekend, when Minnesota State comes into town.

9. Minnesota Duluth – (10-17-5, 8-13-5 WCHA) – Minnesota Duluth was able to steal a point from Minnesota this weekend, but it was not enough to prevent the Bulldogs from being eliminated from home ice contention.  With only two WCHA games remaining, the Bulldogs will definitely be a team nobody in the top half will want to square off against in the first round of the WCHA Tournament.  Next weekend, the Bulldogs host Alabama Huntsville.

10. Bemidji State – (6-17-7, 5-13-6 WCHA) – The Beavers were off last weekend, but perhaps no team can play as much of a spoiler role over the next two weekends as Bemidji State.  Next weekend, Bemidji travels to North Dakota.  The following weekend, the Beavers host Minnesota.  Both UND and Minnesota will be looking for sweeps, while Bemidji State will look to dash both teams’ dreams of the MacNaughton Cup.

11. Michigan Tech – (10-16-4, 6-14-4 WCHA) – The Huskies of Michigan Tech were off this weekend.  Hopefully they used the time to come up with a strategy to knock off St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, who they play next weekend. The season has been a disappointment for most Tech fans who were hoping to challenge for home ice, but a strong end to the season, coupled with the program’s first GLI Championship in three decades, would be a good consolation prize.

12. Alaska Anchorage – (4-19-7, 2-18-6 WCHA) – The Seawolves were off this past weekend.  While UAA has been assured the cellar, and a First Round matchup against the MacNaughton Cup Champions, the Seawolves are still playing for pride.  Next weekend, the Seawolves square off against in-state (and future WCHA) rival Alaska before concluding the WCHA and regular season at Denver.

Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers Combine

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