Minnesota is back in first place in this week's WCHA power rankings.
Maybe it's now that we're into the meat of the season, but some of the early leaders in the league have started to fade a little, and this week's power rankings look a lot closer to preseason predictions than any power ranking yet this year. Here's how I voted in this week's Tech Hockey Guide WCHA Web Media Poll.
1. Minnesota (+1) Last Week: W at Colorado College 4-2, T at Colorado College 4-4
Minnesota looked like they were finally going to get their first sweep in WCHA play, when they took a 4-1 lead into Saturday's third period against Colorado College, but the Tigers came up with a huge three-goal comeback to tie the game, and give the Gophers their third three-point weekend in WCHA play. The Gophers haven't been invincible like some thought they might be, but they've been pretty consistent and haven't had the major hiccups some of the teams ahead of them have had.
The player of the weekend for Minnesota might have been Tom Serratore, who was back playing in his home town and was all over the ice all weekend. He was rewarded with a goal each night for his hard work.
2. North Dakota( +1) Last Week: T vs. Denver 2-2, W vs. Denver 6-3
North Dakota is another team that doesn't have a sweep on the season yet, but they just keep plugging along with solid results every week, and have put themselves in a pretty good position to make a run at the league title in the second half of the season.
Rocco Grimaldi blamed himself for North Dakota's tie on Friday night, and responded with a one goal, three assist performance on Saturday night.
3. Nebraska-Omaha (+1) Last Week: W at St. Cloud 6-5, L at St. Cloud 2-1
The Mavericks won a wild shootout on Friday night to score a huge road win. On Saturday, they had two potential goals disallowed by video review in the third period and had to settle for a split.
Ryan Walters had four points on Friday night, putting him into a tie with Rylan Schwartz for the overall conference scoring lead.
4. Denver (-3) Last Week: T at North Dakota 2-2, L at North Dakota 6-3
Maybe dropping Denver this much after a series at Grand Forks, a place that is always tough for any team to win at, is a bit harsh, but after a fast start, the Pioneers are now winless in their last six games and seem to really be struggling right now.
Sam Brittain and Juho Olkinuora have been splitting time in net so far for Denver, but Olkinuora is starting to pull away from Brittain numbers-wise. The Pioneers might consider letting Olkinuora start two games on a weekend.
5. St. Cloud State(+1) Last Week: L vs. Nebraska-Omaha 6-5, W vs. Nebraska-Omaha 2-1
The Huskies are another team that has cooled off significantly since a hot start in league play, but were able to salvage their weekend with a third period goal on Saturday night to squeak out a split.
With the lone exception being Nick Jensen's first period goal on Saturday, 11 out of the Huskies' last 12 goals have come from their freshman class. Red-shirt freshman David Morley led the way on Friday night netting his first career hat trick. He left Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, but is not expected to miss any time.
6. Minnesota State (+1) Last Week: W vs. Alaska-Anchorage 3-1, W vs. Alaska-Anchorage 3-0
The Mavericks swept their third consecutive WCHA series, and their six consecutive wins have taken them from 1-5-0 and near the bottom of the league, to a league record of 7-5-0 and tied for third in the league. Those six wins came against the bottom three teams in the league, but it's difficult to take four points on a weekend regardless of who you play--as evidenced by Minnesota and North Dakota--and the Mavericks have looked very impressive taking care of business these last three weeks.
Now that they've proven they can beat teams they are better than, the big test will come next weekend when they head to Omaha to take on UNO, and try to steal some points in a tough road series against a quality opponent.
7. Colorado College (-2) Last Week: L vs. Minnesota 4-2, T vs. Minnesota 4-4
Other than their big comeback on Saturday night, the Tigers didn't look overly impressive trying to defend their home ice against the Gophers. Like Denver, they're now on a little streak where they've only won one game in their last eight contests.
CC's third period rally on Saturday night was almost single-handedly orchestrated by Alex Krushelnyski, who scored twice in a two-minute span to bring the game back to within a goal, and then fired a beautiful pass to Archie Skalbeck on the game-tying goal. Krushelnyski has really become quite a player over his college career. While not quite as big, he kind of reminds me of his dad, in that he's not going to blow you away with a bunch of flashy skills, but any time you need someone to make a solid hockey play for you, he can do it.
8. Wisconsin(NC) Last Week: T vs. Michigan Tech 1-1, T vs. Michigan Tech 3-3
Here's about all you need to know about Wisconsin this year: the Badgers literally have not scored more than four goals in a weekend yet this year. Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson have been pretty good in goal, but the Badgers just can't find the scoring necessary to win games.
The good news is that they've managed to claw out a bunch of ties, and with nine points so far, they're not completely out of the home ice race yet, although that's likely a moot discussion if they don't start putting more pucks in the net.
9. Minnesota-Duluth (NC) Last Week: W vs. Bemidji State 4-2, L vs. Bemidji State 2-1
The Bulldogs, like Minnesota State had an opportunity to go on a little run with an easier schedule and get themselves back into contention in the race for home ice. Instead, they gacked up a home game on Saturday night to a team that they probably should have beaten. The Bulldogs are getting scoring on some nights, but they've struggled to find consistent offense production like they got out of Jack Connolly for four straight years.
10. Michigan Tech (NC) Last Week: L at Northern Michigan 2-1, T at Wisconsin 1-1, T at Wisconsin 1-1
The Huskies did manage what is basically a split on the road in league play, in a week where they already had a mid-week game. Still, this wasn't quite the first half most Husky fans were hoping for after expectations were raised based on last year's performance.
11. Bemidji State (NC) Last Week: L at Minnesota-Duluth 4-2, W at Minnesota-Duluth 2-1
The Beavers had lost seven straight conference games against teams that weren't Alaska-Anchorage, but were finally able to stop the bleeding with a win on Saturday night. It's looking like they're going to be one of the teams shuffled to the bottom of the deck in the league, but they proved on Saturday night that they'll still be a tough team that can play the role of spoiler if their opposition isn't careful.
12. Alaska-Anchorage(NC) Last Week: L at Minnesota State 3-1, L at Minnesota State 3-0
Despite being in last place with only one win, this was the first time Alaska-Anchorage has been swept all season. Goalie Chris Kamal stood on his head all weekend for the Seawolves all weekend, facing 75 shots and only allowing the six goals, but it didn't matter much as the team in front of him only managed one goal, scored early on Friday night.