Wednesday, October 31, 2007

WCHA Blog Power Rankings - 10/31

To compliment the Division I men's poll and the Inside College Hockey Power Rankings that are updated on a weekly basis, the WCHA Blog will establish its own weekly ranking system. The number in parenthesis to the right of the team's name shows the change in rank from last week's rankings.

1. North Dakota (-)
Last Week: 3-1 loss and 6-0 win at Michigan Tech
This Week: Two games vs. Colorado College

The Fighting Sioux finally yielded a goal to the opposition this weekend, and even dropped a game in Houghton to the Michigan Tech Huskies. Despite the weekend split though, UND outshot MTU on both nights and showed the ability to rebound after a loss on Saturday. Their matchup with Colorado College should be a fun series.

2. Wisconsin (+2)
Last Week: Bye Week
This Week: Two games vs. Michigan Tech

The Wisconsin Badgers didn't play last weekend, but the two teams that were previously ahead of them in the power rankings lost, so UW moves up by default. They will certainly get a shot to prove they deserve this ranking as they host Michigan Tech and North Dakota over the next two weekends, and then travel to Colorado College and Michigan / Michigan State for the College Hockey Showcase.

3. Colorado College (-1)
Last Week: 5-3 and 4-2 losses at New Hampshire
This Week: Two games at North Dakota

The Tigers dropped a pair of games to New Hampshire last weekend, but were in both games until the end. Plus, dropping two games to UNH on the road is nothing to hang your head about, especially when you consider that the Tigers swept Minnesota the weekend before. All that being said, it's key that the Tigers get at least a point or two out of their series with UND this weekend in Grand Forks before returning home to play five of their next six at the World Arena.

4. Michigan Tech (+1)
Last Week: 3-1 win and 6-0 loss vs. North Dakota
This Week: Two games at Wisconsin

Most teams will be very content in splitting with the Fighting Sioux on most weekends, and you have to think that Jamie Russell and Co. were very content to take two points from UND. Starting this weekend with a pair of games in Madison against the Badgers, the Huskies play seven of their next nine on the road. It will be interesting to see if MTU can carry their solid play on the road, after opening the season by going 4-2-0 at home.

5. Denver (-2)
Last Week: 5-1 win and 3-0 loss vs. Minnesota Duluth
This Week: Two games at Minnesota

The Denver Pioneers played very well in both games last weekend versus Minnesota Duluth, but only managed to take two points from UMD. The Pios surrendered three goals on just 13 shots on Saturday night, and couldn't get any of their 43 shots past UMD's Alex Stalock. That came on the heels of Friday's 5-1 win where DU outshot the 'Dogs by a 30-23 margin. Denver heads to Minnesota this weekend for a rematch of last years hotly contested second-half showdown at Mariucci Arena.

6. Minnesota (-)
Last Week: 3-1 and 2-1 wins vs. Ohio State; 3-1 win vs. U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team
This Week: Two games versus Denver

The Golden Gophers got things going in the right direction last weekend as they swept the Ohio State Buckeyes at Mariucci Arena. However, they still didn't put forth a full 60 minutes of solid play, and were somewhat lucky to come away with the win on Saturday night. Freshman Alex Kangas made 32 saves, including 21 in the third period, to preserve the 2-1 win. This weekend's series with Denver should be a good indicator of where the Gophers stand in the WCHA.

7. Minnesota Duluth (-)
Last Week: 5-1 loss and 3-0 win at Denver
This Week: Bye

The Bulldogs have just one loss in their first six games, which had helped them obtain their first place standing in the WCHA. They took two points home with them from the Mile High City last weekend, which is something that they maybe didn't deserve after being severely outshot in Saturday's 3-0 win. UMD will head back out to Colorado next weekend when they take on Colorado College.

8. St. Cloud State (+1)
Last Week: 2-1 and 6-1 wins vs. Bemidji State; 2-2 tie vs. U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team
This Week: Two games vs. Alaska Anchorage

After being swept by Minnesota Duluth the weekend before, the St. Cloud State Huskies returned home and swept the Bemidji State Beavers by scores of 2-1 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday. On Sunday night, the Huskies skated to a 2-2 tie with the U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team, which featured a two-goal third period by the Huskies to force overtime. In all three games this weekend, SCSU allowed 34 shots on goal or more, so there is still work to be done in St. Cloud.

9. Minnesota State (+1)
Last Week: 2-2 tie and 2-0 win at Alaska Anchorage
This Week: Two games at Alabama-Huntsville

The surprise of the weekend in the WCHA was probably Minnesota State taking three of four points from a previously unbeaten Alaska Anchorage team on the road. Junior Mike Zacharias started both games for the Mavs and played well in stopping 52 of 54 shots. In Friday's 2-2 tie, the Mavericks were down 2-0 after the first period. Minnesota State has a good shot to gain a couple of wins this weekend as they travel to Alabama Huntsville before playing their first home game of the season next Friday against Minnesota.

10. Alaska Anchorage (-2)
Last Week: 2-2 tie and 2-0 loss vs. Minnesota State
This Week: Two games at St. Cloud State

The Alaska Anchorage Seawolves suffered their first loss of the season this weekend, but are still 4-1-2 on the young season. They will venture out of Anchorage for the first time this weekend as they travel to St. Cloud to take on the Huskies. They then play two games at Minnesota, two at home versus Colorado College, and then two at Minnesota Duluth, so we'll see how the Seawolves do in the coming weeks against some stiffer competition.