Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WCHA Blog Power Rankings - 11/20

To compliment the USCHO.com/CSTV 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. Denver (-)
Last Week: 2-1 and 7-0 wins versus Minnesota State
This Week: Home and Home versus Colorado College

There’s not movement at the top of the power rankings this week, thanks in large part to a pair of sweeps by the two top teams. Denver took care of Minnesota State last weekend, and did so by outscoring the Mavs by a 9-1 score in the two games. They take on Colorado College in what should be a great matchup this weekend in a home-and-home series.

2. Colorado College (-)
Last Week: 4-3 and 6-1 wins versus Wisconsin
This Week: Home and Home versus Denver

As impressive as DU’s sweep was, CC’s sweep of the Wisconsin Badgers was even more impressive. They put 10 goals up on the Badgers in two games, which is not the easiest feat to accomplish. CC’s top two lines are arguably the best in the nation, and they are getting great goaltending from freshman Richard Bachman, who continues to dazzle on a nightly basis.

3. North Dakota (-)
Last Week: Idle
This Week: Two games versus Minnesota Duluth

After splitting three straight WCHA series, the Fighting Sioux took last weekend off, and return to action this upcoming weekend by playing host to Minnesota Duluth. UND last lost to the Bulldogs in December of 2004, so it will be an uphill battle for UMD in Grand Forks.

4. St. Cloud State (-)
Last Week: Idle
This Week: Two games at Clarkson

Like North Dakota, the Huskies took last weekend off before heading out east for a non-conference series this weekend against Clarkson. SCSU swept the Golden Knights last season at the National Hockey Center by scores of 4-0 and 7-2, but the upcoming games should be much closer. Clarkson is 9-3-0 on the season and are currently ranked seventh in the current USCHO.com poll.

5. Minnesota Duluth (+2)

Last Week: 1-1 tie and 4-1 win versus Michigan Tech
This Week: Two games at North Dakota

The Bulldogs had a successful weekend, taking three of four points from Michigan Tech. UMD is now tied with Michigan Tech with 9 points, good for third place in the WCHA. Junior defensemen Josh Meyers leads the team in scoring with eight points in 10 games, while Alex Stalock has been great in net, posting a 1.97 goals against average and a .929 save percentage.

6. Wisconsin (-)
Last Week: 4-3 and 6-1 losses at Colorado College
This Week: One game at Michigan, One game at Michigan State (College Hockey Showcase)

After going 3-1 in non-conference play to open the season, the Badgers have struggled in WCHA play, winning just two of six games, and most recently were swept on the road by Colorado College. Scoring, which is usually a struggle for the Badgers, hasn’t been a huge issue in WCHA play, as they are fifth in the league. However, they are ninth in the WCHA in terms of scoring defense, ahead of only Minnesota State. Things don’t get any easier this weekend as they take to the road for the College Hockey Showcase.

7. Michigan Tech (-1)
Last Week: 1-1 tie and 4-1 loss at Minnesota Duluth
This Week: Idle

The Huskies got netminder Michael-Lee Teslak back last weekend, but only managed to take one point from UMD at the DECC. Michigan Tech now has just one win in its last seven games, and have just one game in Houghton from now until January 25. The Huskies are a middle-of-the-road team in most key conference statistics, but one of their issues is that they have no player with double-digit points, so the argument could be made that the Huskies lack a true game-breaker to win some of these close games.

8. Minnesota (-3)
Last Week: 3-0 win and 4-2 loss versus Minnesota State
This Week: One game at Michigan State, One game at Michigan (College Hockey Showcase)

The Gophers appeared to have righted their ship after last Friday’s 3-0 win over Alaska Anchorage, but then proceeded to fall back to their old ways in yielding three third period goals in a 4-2 loss on Saturday. On the season, Minnesota is a minus six in third period goal differential. The right names are appearing on the score sheet for Minnesota – Jay Barriball, Kyle Okposo, and Blake Wheeler all scored goals last weekend – but the Gophers need to work on playing a full 60 minutes of intense hockey if they hope to emerge as a top team. They take on Michigan State and Michigan this weekend.

9. Alaska Anchorage (+1)
Last Week: 3-0 loss and 4-2 win at Minnesota
This Week: Idle

The Seawolves used a three goal third period to stop their winless streak at five games last Saturday in Minneapolis. That was their first WCHA win and are now 1-3-2 in conference play. Sophomores Kevin Clark and Josh Lunden continue to play great hockey for the Seawolves, as they lead UAA in scoring.

10. Minnesota State (-1)

Last Week: 2-1 and 7-0 losses at Denver
This Week: Idle

The Mavericks have now dropped four straight games and have just one win in eight conference games to open the season. They are last in the league in both scoring offense (1.50 GPG) and scoring defense (3.62 GPG); and, not surprisingly, their power play and penalty kill both rank toward the bottom of the league as well. Part of their early season struggles could relate to their schedule: they’ve played nine of 10 games so far on the road. They are off this weekend but then host Minnesota Duluth and Wisconsin, so they have some chances – at home – to get back in the race.