NCAA hockey top 20: Two for one

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February 15, 2013 by Casey Hart

Two weeks worth of my rankings this time around. Not much commentary on this week’s list, which is displayed first. The only big changes were my correction of previously underrating Miami and the addition at No. 17 of a Merrimack team in the midst of a 6-1-1 run. Last week’s list is below.

As always, 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. QuinnipiacBobcats
21-3-4 overall • 7-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 1 • USCHO: 1 • USA Today: 1
2. Minnesota
19-5-4 overall • 7-3-2 vs. my ranked teams  • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 2 • USCHO: 2 • USA Today: 2
3. St. Cloud State
18-11-1 overall • 8-6-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 3 • USCHO: 8 • USA Today: 8
4. Western Michigan
18-7-5 overall • 6-2-2 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 4 • USCHO: 6 • USA Today: 6
5. Miami
18-7-5 overall • 6-3-1 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 10 • USCHO: 3 • USA Today: 3
6. Yale
13-6-3 overall • 5-1-2 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 6 • USCHO: 10 • USA Today: 9
7. North Dakota
16-8-6 overall • 8-6-4 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 8 • USCHO: 7 • USA Today: 7
8. Boston College
16-7-2 overall • 6-3-1 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-0 last week
Last week: 7 • USCHO: 4 • USA Today: 4
9. New Hampshire
16-7-3 overall • 5-3-2 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-1 last week
Last week: 5 • USCHO: 5 • USA Today: 5
10. Notre Dame
18-11-1 overall • 5-5-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 11 • USCHO: 12 • USA Today: 12
11. Denver
15-9-5 overall • 10-7-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 9 • USCHO: 11 • USA Today: 11
12. Minnesota State
18-9-3 overall • 4-5-1 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 12 • USCHO: 9 • USA Today: 10
13. Nebraska-Omaha
16-12-2 overall • 4-9-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 13 • USCHO: 16 • USA Today: Receiving votes
14. Niagara
18-5-5 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 15 • USCHO: 15 • USA Today: 14
15. Wisconsin
12-9-7 overall • 5-6-4 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 17 • USCHO: 18 • USA Today: RV
16. Boston University
13-11-1 overall • 7-7-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-0 last week
Last week: 14 • USCHO: 13 • USA Today: 13
17. Merrimack
13-10-5 overall • 6-5-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-0 last week
Last week: Not ranked • USCHO: 17 • USA Today: RV
18. UMass Lowell
14-9-2 overall • 3-6-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 16 • USCHO: 14 • USA Today: 15
19. Alaska
13-11-4 overall • 5-5-1 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 19 • USCHO: 20 • USA Today: RV
20. Ferris State
14-12-4 overall • 2-6-1 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 20 • USCHO: RV • USA Today: NR

NCAA hockey top 20: Playing catch-up (Feb. 4 ranking)

1. Quinnipiac
19-3-4 overall • 7-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 1 • USCHO: 2 • USA Today: 2

I voted Quinnipiac No. 1 for the second straight week. A lot of ECAC Hockey supporters are upset that the Bobcats got fewer first-place votes in the USCHO poll despite a big road win at highly ranked Yale. These folks are forgetting what comes along with being, or going for, No. 1: You’re supposed to win each game, no matter the opponent or venue.

A few people penalized Quinnipiac for a tie at Brown. I have no problem with this, but I don’t think tying a solid Bears squad is enough to drop the Bobcats behind Minnesota. Quinnipiac, with its 19-game (16-0-3) unbeaten streak and 12-0-2 record in the always-tight ECAC, has just been too good.

2. Minnesota
18-4-4 overall • 6-2-2 vs. my ranked teams  • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 2 • USCHO: 1 • USA Today: 1

It’s hard to get too upset about the Golden Gophers holding the top spot in the national polls. They have been pretty good in their last 19 games, too, at 13-2-4.

3. St. Cloud State
17-10-1 overall • 7-5-0 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 4 • USCHO: 8 • USA Today: 10

The biggest reason I don’t have Minnesota ranked first? First-place St. Cloud. The Huskies have a three-point lead in college hockey’s top conference and are five points clear of the third-place Gophers, albeit having played two more league games. Quinnipiac’s dominance of the second-deepest conference in the country gives the Bobcats an edge. St. Cloud, meanwhile, is on a six-game unbeaten run that includes a home sweep of Denver and a three-point weekend in Grand Forks, N.D.

4. Western Michigan
17-6-5 overall • 5-1-2 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 5 • USCHO: 6 • USA Today: 6

The Broncos sit a point back of Miami in the shootout-diluted CCHA standings and share an identical overall mark with the RedHawks. Western, though, only trails Miami by virtue of shootout losses and owns something the RedHawks haven’t yet gotten a shot at—a win against Notre Dame. Miami gets a direct shot at the Broncos this weekend, two in fact, in Oxford, Ohio.

5. New Hampshire
16-7-2 overall • 5-3-2 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 3 • USCHO: 4 • USA Today: 5

Just when you thought Hockey East was a three-team league, New Hampshire, Boston College and Boston University started running into trouble against the league’s bottom-dwellers.

6. Yale
13-6-3 overall • 5-1-2 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 6 • USCHO: 10 • USA Today: 9

The Bulldogs led their seemingly invincible neighbors by two goals, only to give up six straight scores and likely any hope of catching Quinnipiac for the Cleary Cup. Yale now faces five straight road games, starting with travel-partner Brown.

7. Boston College
15-7-2 overall (now 16-7-2) • 6-3-1 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-0 last week
Last week: 7 • USCHO: 5 • USA Today: 4

You know you got off to a good start when a 3-5-1 stretch only drops you to No. 7 in the nation. And that’s just in my ranking. USCHO has the Eagles at No. 5. Also, Johnny Gaudreau (13-20-33) is averaging 1.57 points per game. That’s 1.57.

8. North Dakota
14-8-6 overall • 6-6-4 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 9 • USCHO: 7 • USA Today: 7

The nicknameless ones have won just one of their last six games, yet they’re still a solid No. 8 with the two losses in that span coming against Minnesota and St. Cloud and ties against the Gophers, Huskies and Wisconsin Badgers. North Dakota has a big weekend coming up at Nebraska-Omaha, which it trails in the WCHA standings.

9. Denver
15-8-4 overall • 10-7-1 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 10 • USCHO: 9 • USA Today: 8

The oh-so-streaky Pioneers are on a 6-2-1 run and are set for a home-and-home weekend against rival Colorado College. Denver totaled 12 goals in a sweep of the teams’ previous series.

10. Miami
17-6-5 overall • 5-2-1 vs. my ranked teams • 2-0-0 last week
Last week: 13 • USCHO: 3 • USA Today: 3

This is probably too low for the RedHawks, who, as previously noted, are leading the CCHA. Because of its lack of marquee wins, I’ve kept Miami lower in my ranking than the other pollsters all season. The RedHawks’ resume has grown more impressive as the season has progressed and victims like Alaska, Ohio State and Wisconsin have proved their mettle. And what else is new? Miami has two freshmen—Ryan McKay (1.08 goals-against average, .960 save percentage) and Jay Williams (1.76, .930)—ranked in the nation’s top 11 in both goaltending ratios.

11. Notre Dame
16-11-1 overall • 5-5-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 8 • USCHO: 11 • USA Today: 12

The Fighting Irish, at 2-7-1 since the turn of the calendar, have joined their future Hockey East brethren in swooning through January. Notre Dame still owns wins against Western Michigan, North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha.

12. Minnesota State
16-9-3 overall • 4-5-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-0-0 last week
Last week: 14 • USCHO: 11 • USA Today: 13

No matter what else happens this season—and it could be plenty—the Mavericks can hang their collective hat on a pair of wins against Minnesota in the Gophers’ final WCHA campaign.

13. Nebraska-Omaha
16-10-2 overall • 4-7-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-1-0 last week
Last week: 11 • USCHO: 14 • USA Today: 15

Despite a second-place standing in the WCHA his set of Mavericks is this low on my national list due to missed opportunities out of conference against the likes of Quinnipiac and Notre Dame. They will get a chance for some respect-earning wins in the aforementioned home set against North Dakota.

14. Boston University
13-10-1 overall • 7-7-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-0 last week
Last week: 12 • USCHO: 13 • USA Today: 11

The Terriers continued to plunge on this list, even before Monday’s Beanpot loss to Northeastern. We should see what BU is made of Monday. The Terriers have every reason to be motivated, having blown late leads in losses to Harvard both earlier this season and the last time the teams met in the Beanpot consolation game, in 2011.

15. Niagara
17-4-5 overall • 0-0-0 vs. my ranked teams • 1-0-1 last week
Last week: 18 • USCHO: 15 • USA Today: 14

The Purple Eagles have faced the some of their top Atlantic Hockey opposition recently, going 4-1-1 against Bently, RIT and Holy Cross. Carsen Chubak and the defense continue to lead the way. The junior paces Division I with five shutouts.

16. UMass Lowell
14-9-2 overall • 3-6-0 vs. my ranked teams • 0-2-0 last week
Last week: 15 • USCHO: 16 • USA Today: Receiving votes

Previously riding a 10-0-1 run, the River Hawks crashed down to Earth with road losses at Merrimack and Maine last weekend. I don’t expect host Boston College to show much sympathy (or to be looking ahead to the Beanpot final) when Lowell tries to turn things around Friday in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

17. Wisconsin
11-9-6 overall • 5-6-4 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 17 • USCHO: 19 • USA Today: Not ranked

The Badgers, like UMass Lowell, entered last weekend among the nation’s hottest teams, only to suffer less-than-favorable results. Picking up one point is hardly the worst thing to happen to a team visiting the Ralph, though, and Wisconsin plays only two road games (March 1-2 at Nebraska-Omaha) the rest of the season.

18. Dartmouth
11-8-3 overall • 2-3-2 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 16 • USCHO: 17 • USA Today: RV

It seems like just about every hot-starting Eastern team has hit a 2013 rough patch, and the Big Green is no different. Dartmouth was carried by a deep offense early on but has managed more than two goals just once in a 1-3-1 stretch.

19. Alaska
12-10-4 overall • 5-5-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-2-0 last week
Last week: 19 • USCHO: RV • USA Today: RV

See: Wisconsin.

20. Ferris State
13-11-4 overall • 2-6-1 vs. my ranked teams • 0-1-1 last week
Last week: 20 • USCHO: RV • USA Today: RV

The Bulldogs back into my ranking on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1), but those games were against the formidable duo of Western Michigan and Notre Dame and were preceded by a road win against the Irish. Ferris is sitting fourth in the CCHA but will need a strong finish, as most of the other teams in the tightly packed league have two games in hand on the Bulldogs.

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