A recap of the weekend in WCHA action.
1. Denver (/NC) Last Week: L vs. St. Cloud 3-0, W vs. St. Cloud 6-1
Denver maintains the top spot in my rankings despite their split with St. Cloud. Usually when two teams split, I'd say it's a slightly better result for the team on the road. But Friday night was their first loss of the season, and they bounced back with a dominating victory on Saturday night. The Pioneers will get their first test on the road next weekend.
2. St. Cloud (+2) Last Week: W at Denver 3-0, L at Denver 6-1
Getting points on the road against arguably the best team in the WCHA is a great result for the Huskies. Ever since being swept the opening weekend by New Hampshire, St. Cloud has looked as impressive as any team in the WCHA. And now that we're a couple weeks into season, New Hampshire looks like a pretty good team, and Kalle Kossila not making that trip for St. Cloud seems like a pretty big deal, dampening the blow of those two losses. I know some people still have questions about if this team can maintain that level of play all season, especially in goal, but they should only get better once Ben Hanowski and Joey Benik return from injury.
3. Minnesota (-1) Last Week: W vs. Minnesota State 3-2, L at Minnesota State 5-3
A lot of the chatter about Friday's game seemed to focus on how Minnesota was having such a difficult time with a team St. Cloud blew out twice in a row, with the most common theory being that Minnesota State played up to their competition against the Gophers. Really though, I thought Minnesota State played just as poorly on Friday night as they did in St. Cloud. The Gophers just didn't look as good as the Huskies. The Gophers still have another level that they can hit. The stats for players like Nick Bjugstad and Zach Budish are still a little low based on good they have been, and how good they could be. If those two really get going, their offense should be able to really blow teams away. But right now, something just isn't clicking for this team.
4. North Dakota(-1) Last Week: W vs. Boston University 4-2, L vs. Boston University 4-2
Continuing with the meta commentary, Boston University's Ben Rosen didn't even find four points, proving no matter how low your expectations, North Dakota is still a place that manages to leave you underwhelmed.
The Sioux got a natural hat trick on Friday from Connor Gaarder. Depth and secondary scoring will be the key point to hammer over and over again with the Sioux this year. This was the third weekend in a row where North Dakota got a nice win on Friday night, and followed it up with a disappointing result because they just couldn't generate enough offense on Saturday night.
5. Minnesota-Duluth (+1) Last Week: Bye
With the weekend off, it was the perfect time for everyone to go wolf hunting. The Bulldogs move up a spot thanks to Wisconsin's rough weekend.
6. Colorado College (+4) Last Week: W at Wisconsin 5-4 (OT), W at Wisconsin 3-0
I guess I was wrong about Colorado College when I had them ranked so low based on their non-conference results. They start out the WCHA season with four huge points on the road.
Eamonn McDermott is officially this year's CC defenseman that comes out of nowhere as an upperclassmen to be crazy good. A four point weekend against Wisconsin now gives him eight assists through eight games, leaving him just two points of the ten he scored last season.
7. Nebraska-Omaha (+2) Last Week: W at Michigan Tech 2-1, W at Michigan Tech 5-3
Winning at Michigan Tech doesn't seem to be easy these days, so this weekend's results lends some credence to the theory that UNO is a pretty good team that just can't play against Bemidji State.
Notable for the Mavericks was that last year's top scorer, Matt White missed the trip for academic reasons. That's been a concern for White throughout his career, and with UNO already thin in terms of scoring, an extended absence could really hurt. The good news is that Zahn Raubenheimer stepped up scoring two goals in each game this weekend to help vault himself to the lead scoring lead.
8. Bemidji State (NC): Last Week: Bye
The Bemidji Lumberjacks high school girls volleyball team swept Fergus Falls for the second straight year.. In case you were curious, lumberjill is the correct term for a female lumberjack.
9. Wisconsin (-4) Last Week: L vs. Colorado College 5-4(OT), L vs. Colorado College 3-0
Wisconsin remains the most schizophrenic team in the league. For whatever reason, the Badgers have been a consistently terrible team in overtimes in recent years, and Friday continued that. The toughest loss of the weekend may have been losing top forward Mark Zengerle to a broken finger that will leave him out for roughly two months.
The Badgers will get a week to regroup and then head on the road to Minnesota, a very similar scenario to the one they had before traveling to Duluth and getting three points.
10. Minnesota State (+2) Last Week: L at Minnesota 3-2, W vs. Minnesota 5-3
The Mavericks pulled out a late win on Saturday night to get on the board in WCHA play. On Saturday, they showed the first signs of being the team many expected this season. While the penalty kill still needs serious work, a 2 for 8 weekend on the power play was a huge step up from their recent performances.
The Mavericks host Denver next weekend, meaning they'll have opened the season with series against arguably the three best teams in the WCHA.
11. Michigan Tech (-4) Last Week: L vs. UNO 2-1, L vs. UNO 5-3
The Huskies have now lost five straight WCHA games, and it looks like their road to a program turnaround may be a bit bumpier than expected.
On Saturday, the Huskies had battled to a 2-2 tie midway through the second period, before giving up two goals within 25 seconds of each other that ended up sealing their fate.
12. Alaska-Anchorage (-1) Last Week: Bye
The Seawolves will have to be careful because they're hosting Minnesota this week, a team that was stung with a tough loss last weekend and will come in dangerous, like a wounded grizzly bear. Perhaps for practice, they can deal with the wounded grizzly bear wandering around their city.