NCAA hockey top 20: Incremental movements

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October 9, 2012 by Casey Hart

There were only three real games on college hockey’s opening weekend, so not much has changed in the national top 20. There were also plenty of exhibition games that undoubtedly could tell an observer a great deal about the teams involved, but those games don’t count and don’t affect this list.

My top 20 is below. Each team is listed with its overall record, record against my ranked teams, last week’s ranking and, for comparison’s sake, national rankings from the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey (top 15) polls. My ballot is submitted to USCHO by Monday at noon.

1. Boston CollegeEagles
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 1 • USCHO: 1 • USA Today: 2

I checked: The Eagles still haven’t lost since January.

2. Minnesota
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 2 • USCHO: 2 • USA Today: 1
3. North Dakota
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 4 • USCHO: 4 • USA Today: 4

North Dakota is one of two teams to climb the ranks without even playing a real game, thanks to Union’s loss to Merrimack. UND did defeat Manitoba in an exhibition that is waiting for me on DVR.

4. Ferris State
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 5 • USCHO: 11 • USA Today: 11
5. Union
0-1-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 3 • USCHO: 10 • USA Today: 9

Before the Dutchmen’s season opener against Merrimack Saturday, Union raised four (four!) different banners honoring the team’s accomplishments in 2011-12, by far the most successful season in school history. When the puck dropped, the Dutchmen played like a team very satisfied with what it had already accomplished. Coach Rick Bennett noticed. With practice just getting underway, he has plenty of time to address any motivation issues. I didn’t punish Union too much for a poor opening effort. After all, it’s not like anyone else earned a move up the ranks.

6. Western Michigan
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 6 • USCHO: 9 • USA Today: 7
7. Michigan
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 7 • USCHO: 3 • USA Today: 3
8. UMass Lowell
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 8 • USCHO: 6 • USA Today: 6
9. Denver
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 9 • USCHO: 7 • USA Today: 10
10. Air Force
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 10 • USCHO: Receiving votes • USA Today: RV

Air Force, already receiving little credit for sweeping the Atlantic Hockey regular-season and tournament titles last year, was one of two teams to fall out of the USCHO.com top 20 without playing a game. That leaves me with a top-10 team that isn’t ranked in either major poll, and the Falcons didn’t make me look any better when they lost their exhibition to a British Columbia playing its third game in three days Monday. (The Thunderbirds—awesome name—tied Denver Friday and lost to Colorado College Saturday, but CC was the only team of those three to fall in my ranking. But hey, we talkin’ ‘bout practice.) Air Force will have a chance to bolster its case with a challenging opening-weekend trip to Anchorage to take on the Alaska schools and games against local rivals CC and DU a week later.

11. Harvard
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 11 • USCHO: 17 • USA Today: RV
12. Cornell
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 12 • USCHO: 5 • USA Today: 5
13. Boston University
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 13 • USCHO: 12 • USA Today: 14
14. Notre Dame
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 14 • USCHO: 14 • USA Today: 13
15. Quinnipiac
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 15 • USCHO: 18 • USA Today: RV

The Bobcats opened with an impressive win at Maine, but they get no bump in my ranking. As unwelcoming as Alfond Arena can be, this was a game that, according to my ranking, Quinnipiac should have won.

16. Wisconsin
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 16 • USCHO: 15 • USA Today: 15
17. New Hampshire
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 17 • USCHO: RV • USA Today: RV
18. Merrimack
1-0-0 overall • 1-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: Not ranked • USCHO: 19 • USA Today: RV

If we were operating on the level playing field—er, rink—of an opening week in which all teams played, the Warriors would likely have climbed much higher after beating Union on the road. If Merrimack can open Hockey East play by defeating Northeastern Wednesday, it could find itself in the top 10 on this list next week. There can be lots of volatility in the early rankings.

19. Miami
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 18 • USCHO: 8 • USA Today: 8
20. Minnesota Duluth
0-0-0 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams
Last week: 19 • USCHO: 13 • USA Today: 12

The RedHawks, Bulldogs and CC Tigers were the unfortunate squads to slip in my ranking despite not yet suiting up for a real game. I doubt they’ll lose a lot of sleep over it. Miami, incidentally, poured 49 shots on net in a 6-2 exhibition win against Western Ontario and will open with a weekend set against Colgate. Duluth welcomes Ohio State for games Friday and Saturday.

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