Welcome to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Power Rankings. Three of us will be doing the weekly NCHC Power Rankings during the 2014-15 season.

This season, Zach Hawkins @Siouxhockey33, Taylor Seibel @taylorseibel and Eric Burton @goon48 will break down the NCHC power rankings. Feel free to send your comments to [email protected]

Without further adieu, here’s this week’s power rankings.

Eric Burton

1. North Dakota (18-5-2, 9-4-1 NCHC) USCHO 2, Pairwise Ranking: 2

This past weekend, the University of North Dakota swept (2-1 W, 5-2 W) the last place Colorado College Tigers. The Tigers gave UND all they could handle, but in the end UND’s depth helped them prevail. Since the beginning of the New Year, UND is 7-1-0.

This weekend, UND travels to Omaha an important two-game conference series.

2. Nebraska-Omaha (15-6-3, 9-4-1 NCHC) USCHO 5, Pairwise Ranking: T-3

Last weekend, the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks were idle.

The Mavericks entertain North Dakota in a pivotal two-game conference series. Since December 1, 2014, UNO is 8-3-1. Two of their three losses are to New Hampshire and Colorado College.

3. Minnesota-Duluth (14-9-1, 8-5-1-0 NCHC) USCHO 7, Pairwise Ranking: 7

This past weekend, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs took third in the North Star College Cup. The Bulldogs lost in the first round of the NRCC to the upstart Bemidji State Beavers 0-4. The Bulldogs then defeated the Minnesota Gophers in the third place game 2-1.

UMD is going through a bit of a rough stretch, they’re 2-3-1 in their last six games and 4-3-1 during 2015. That being said, I still think UMD is one of the top teams in the NCHC and I expect them to get out of their funk soon.

This weekend, the Bulldogs travel to Denver to play the Pioneers in an important two-game series.

4. Miami (15-9-0, 8-6-0 NCHC) USCHO 9, Pairwise Ranking: 8

Last weekend, the Miami University RedHawks split (1-3 L, 4-1 W) their weekend series with the Denver Pioneers. Since the beginning of the New Year, MU is 3-3-0.

This weekend, Miami plays Western Michigan in a home-and-home series. Miami swept the Western earlier in the season, but the Broncos are an improved team.

5. Denver (14-8-1, 7-6-0 NCHC) USCHO 11, Pairwise Ranking: 11

Last weekend, the Denver Pioneers split (3-1 W, 1-4 L) their weekend series with the Miami RedHawks. Since the beginning of the New Year, Denver is 4-3-1

This weekend, Denver entertains the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in an important conference series. The two teams split their series earlier in the season.

6. Western Michigan (11-10-3, 4-7-3 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 21

This past weekend, Western Michigan split (0-7 L, 3-2 W) their weekend series with the St. Cloud State Huskies. After starting the season slowly, Western has gone 6-2-2 in the last 10 games.

This weekend, Western plays a home-and-homes series with the Miami RedHawks. The Broncos were swept by RedHawks earlier in the season.

7. St. Cloud State (10-13-1, 5-8-1-0 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 26

This past weekend, St. Cloud State split (7-0 W, 2-3 L) their weekend series with Western Michigan. Over the last 10 games, the Huskies are 4-6-0.

This weekend, the Huskies travel to Colorado Springs to play the Tigers.

8. Colorado College (5-16-1, 1-11-1 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 47

This past weekend, the Colorado College Tigers were swept (1-2 L, 3-5 L) by North Dakota. Since the beginning of the New Year, the Tigers are 2-7-0.

This weekend, the Tigers entertain the St. Cloud State Huskies.

Taylor Seibel

1. North Dakota (18-5-2, 9-4-1 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 2

North Dakota maintains the #1 spot in my weekly rankings.  The Sioux outplayed Colorado College for large stretches of the weekend, but both games managed to come down to the wire.  Fortunately for the North Dakota faithful, the Sioux got timely scoring and strong goaltending and earned the sweep.  North Dakota now must travel down to Omaha to take on former coach Dean Blais’ Mavericks in what looks to be the marquee matchup in not only the NCHC, but in all of college hockey this weekend.

2. Nebraska Omaha (15-6-3, 9-4-1 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: T-3

Nebraska-Omaha had the weekend off this past weekend, which should have given the Mavericks plenty of time to think about their big series this upcoming weekend.  For UNO, it very well may be the biggest regular season series in the program’s history, as the Mavs are in prime position to fight for what would be the school’s first conference championship.  The Mavs will need to do better than their last series against North Dakota to maintain their 1-point lead in the standings, but having home ice should help out quite a bit.  Either way, it should be a great series between the top two teams in the NCHC.

3. Miami (15-9-0, 8-6-0 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 8

The RedHawks split a home series with Denver this past weekend, dropping the Friday contest 3-1 before rallying back on Saturday with a 4-1 victory.  The RedHawks have shown flashes of absolute brilliance this season but have also struggled at times.  Miami will look to smooth those highs and lows out in the final two months of the season, and that begins this weekend when the RedHawks play a home and home series against a talented Western Michigan squad.

4. Minnesota Duluth (14-9-1, 8-5-1-0 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 7

Duluth struggled mightily on Friday in the North Star College Cup against in-state rival Bemidji State.  The Beavers shut down the Bulldogs, and when the final horn rang, Bemidji advanced to the championship (which they would win) with a convincing 4-0 victory.  UMD responded though in the third place matchup, earning a hard fought 2-1 victory over Minnesota.  While Minnesota Duluth has struggled recently, going 1-3-1 in their last 5, the Bulldogs are still a contender in both the league and the nation.  They will look to get back on track this weekend as the Bulldogs take a trip to the Mile High City to take on Denver in a critical conference series.

5. Denver (14-8-1, 7-6-0 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 11

Denver traveled to Oxford, OH this past weekend, and earned a very respectable split with Miami, winning the Friday contest.  Just as importantly, the Pioneers also jumped up to the #11 spot in the Pairwise rankings, which now has 5 NCHC teams in the top 11.  While their national prospects are still strong, Denver will need to start doing better than splits if they wish to earn home ice in the NCHC Tournament.  That starts this weekend as DU hosts Minnesota Duluth in conference action.

6. Western Michigan (11-10-3, 4-7-3 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 21

For 5 periods of hockey this weekend in St. Cloud, it looked like Western had lost all its gas and would slink out of St. Cloud with a pair of L’s on the record.  The Broncos had been crushed 7-0 on Friday and were down 2-0 entering the third on Saturday.  That’s when Western may have saved its season, as the Broncos charged back with three unanswered goals to steal the Saturday contest and earn a split.  Barring a fall from one of the top 5 teams, it is unlikely that the Broncos will finish with home ice, but they at least have given themselves a fighter’s chance.  They will look to earn more conference points this weekend as they play a home and home with Miami.

7. St. Cloud State (10-13-1, 5-8-1-0 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 26

The Huskies nearly pulled off a strong sweep this past weekend, as the Huskies had outscored Western 9-0 through the first five periods of play.  Unfortunately for SCSU, they fell flat in the third on Saturday and allowed the Broncos to earn a split.  It was St. Cloud’s season in a microcosm this weekend.  The Huskies have the ability to play great hockey, as showcased on Friday.  However, they are also maddeningly inconsistent, as shown by their strong start but disappointing finish on Saturday.  St. Cloud will look for a bit more consistency this weekend as they travel to Colorado College in NCHC play.

8. Colorado College (5-16-1, 1-11-1 NCHC) Pairwise Ranking: 47

For sixty minutes of play, the CC Tigers played with North Dakota up and down the ice.  That sort of effort and determination normally pays off with at least a point or two in the standings, but the Tigers fell just short in both games against the Sioux.  Colorado College should hold their heads up high though, as they have shown again why they are capable of beating any team in the league.  While CC will likely finish the season in the cellar, they will make whoever finishes atop the NCHC plays a full 60 minutes in order to beat the Tigers in the NCHC Tournament.  CC heads back home this weekend to take on St. Cloud in conference action.

Zach Hawkins

1. North Dakota 18-5-2 Pairwise: 2 USCHO: 1

With another sweep at home, this time gaining valuable conference points, North Dakota is just one point back of Omaha for the NCHC lead, making this weekend’s battle in Omaha very important. UND has yet to lose on Saturday nights and has just one loss to UMD since the turn to 2015.

2. Omaha  15-6-3 Pairwise: T3 USCHO: 5

With an off weekend this past weekend, the Mavericks were able to rest and prepare for North Dakota, who comes to town this weekend. Coach Blais better have his boys ready to play this weekend, or first place might be in jeopardy. However, knowing Blais, they will be more than ready to play.

3. Miami 15-9-0 Pairwise: 8 USCHO: 9

Moving up this week, Miami would split with Denver, but looked really impressive in their 4-1 victory Saturday night. Having a home and home with Western Michigan this weekend, Miami should keep clawing their way towards the top of the NCHC standings.

4. Minnesota-Duluth 14-9-1 Pairwise: 7 USCHO: 7

The Dogs looked terrible in their Friday non-conference loss to Bemidji State in round one of the North Star College Cup Friday night, losing 4-0. They would rebound for a win on Saturday against Minnesota with a late game goal, but not the impressive Duluth we have been used to seeing this season.

4. Denver 14-8-1 Pairwise: 11 USCHO: 11

The Pioneers split with Miami this weekend in Oxford and kept hope alive for a possible home ice playoff series for now. Just 8 points out of first and 3 out of a home ice first round, Denver is probably gonna be one of the last teams to make the NCAA tournament from the NCHC this season.

6. St. Cloud State 10-13-1 Pairwise: 26 USCHO: N/R

Well, Friday night the Huskies dominated Western Michigan at every end of the ice, winning 7-0. Splitting the series, although barely, St. Cloud showed once again why they are the most dangerous sub 500 team in NCAA hockey.

7. Western Michigan 11-10-3 Pairwise: 21 USCHO: N/R

The Broncos left the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center Friday night with their tails between their legs after an embarrassing 7-0 loss to St. Cloud. They came back and battled Saturday to salvage a split with a 3-2 victory.

8. Colorado College 5-16-1 Pairwise: 47 USCHO: N/R

Well, I can’t say the Tigers didn’t battle this weekend in Grand Forks, because that’s exactly what they did. The sweep North Dakota earned this weekend did not come easy and much of that was due to the rising play of Colorado College last weekend.

About The Author

College Hockey Writer, Contributing Editor

Eric Burton is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers college hockey and the University of North Dakota for Inside Hockey. Eric is the editor of the SIN BIN. Lastly, Eric was the college hockey writer for The Hockey Writers.

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