POWAR!1ONE Rankings: Minnesota, UND one and two ahead of their final WCHA series

Minnesota is our new No. 1 team in the WCHA following last week's sweep of Alaska Anchorage. (Photo credit: Matthew Semisch)

Minnesota is our new No. 1 team in the WCHA following last week’s sweep of Alaska Anchorage. (Photo credit: Matthew Semisch)

Minnesota is back at the top of the tree ahead of the Gophers’ big showdown against arch-rival North Dakota; Wisconsin picked one of its final WCHA firsts last weekend; and Minnesota Duluth picked up its first home sweep of the season.

1.) MINNESOTA (16-3-3, 8-3-3 WCHA)
Last time: W v Alaska Anchorage 4-3 Jan. 11; W v Alaska Anchorage 7-1 Jan. 12
Next time: V North Dakota Friday and Saturday

  • National pollsters see the Golden Gophers as the nation’s top team, and they may be right, but Minnesota needed a bit of good fortune last weekend in order to sweep last-place Alaska Anchorage in Minneapolis. The Seawolves were winning 3-2 late in Friday’s game, but Minnesota’s Zach Budish drew a controversial five-minute major penalty that ended up leading to both an equalizer and a late game-winner for the hosts. UMTC head coach Don Lucia’s men will face a much tougher test this week when arch-rival North Dakota visits Mariucci Arena for the teams’ final two meetings there in WCHA play.

2.) NORTH DAKOTA (13-6-3, 8-3-3)
Last time: L v Colorado College 4-3 Jan. 11; W v Colorado College 5-3 Jan. 12
Next time: At Minnesota Friday and Saturday

  • UND’s 4-3 loss to a struggling Colorado College squad last Friday in Grand Forks was something North Dakota fans will want to forget as soon as possible, apart perhaps for Mark McMillan’s submission for WCHA goal of the season honors early in the game’s third period. Anyway, UND got back on the right track by winning the rematch 5-3, and a win over the Tigers was much-needed considering UND is now off to the Twin Cities for a first-versus-second showdown.

3.) DENVER (13-6-4, 8-4-4)
Last time: W v Nebraska Omaha 7-4 Jan. 11; T v Nebraska Omaha 3-3 Jan. 12
Next time: At St. Cloud State Friday and Saturday

  • George Gwozdecky’s Pioneers outlasted No. 13 Nebraska Omaha last weekend in a pair of goalfests at DU’s Magness Arena. Juho Olkinuora was one of the stars despite giving up seven goals on the weekend. It’s not very often that you get to say that, but his 81 saves over the two games helped make sure that the Pios stayed in the sort of position they wanted to be in in those games. UNO gave a better account of itself in last Saturday’s 3-3 tie, but, in the end, DU deserved its three points from the weekend and UNO didn’t deserved its one.

4.) NEBRASKA OMAHA (13-9-2, 5-9-2)
Last time: L at Denver 7-4 Jan. 11; T at Denver 3-3 Jan. 12
Next time: Idle this week; At Bemidji State Jan. 25-26

  • UNO is now 0-8-2 all-time at Magness Arena, and last weekend gave us two more examples as to why that venue is a house of horrors for the Mavericks. That series is done now, though, and UNO can look forward to being done with the roughest stretch of its schedule. Things should get much easier in the final third of the season for UNO, but its next opponent two weeks from now is a Bemidji State team that almost always picks up points against Dean Blais’ Mavericks.

5.) ST. CLOUD STATE (12-10-0, 9-5-0)
Last time: Idle last week; L v Northern Michigan 6-2 Jan. 4; L v Northern Michigan 2-1 Jan. 5
Next time: V Denver Friday and Saturday

  • Bob Motzko’s Huskies have had an extra week to steam in the aftermath of their unfortunate pair of home loses to Northern Michigan back at the start of this month. Denver is next up for SCSU, and Gwozdecky’s men should be careful as they visit the National Hockey Center to take on a team that ought to be pretty annoyed about what it did last time out.

6.) WISCONSIN (8-7-5, 6-5-5)
Last time: OTW at Minnesota State 4-3 Jan. 11; OTW at Minnesota State 2-1 Jan. 12
Next time: V Miami Friday and Saturday

  • The Badgers picked up their first-ever weekend sweep in Mankato, Minn. last weekend in a pair of wins at Minnesota State, thanks in large part to an overtime goal in both games by John Ramage. UW head coach Mike Eaves has his team on a serious roll right now – the Badgers have won each of their last six games and are 7-0-3 since Nov. 30 – and they’re in just about the best possible shape ahead of a big non-conference series this week at home to top-ten Miami.

7.) MINNESOTA DULUTH (9-10-3, 7-6-3)
Last time: W v Michigan Tech 1-0 Jan. 11; W v Michigan Tech 5-4 Jan. 12
Next time: At Colorado College Friday and Saturday

  • UMD was made to work hard last weekend for its first home sweep of the season, but that gave the Bulldogs four huge points as they try and claw their way back into the hunt for home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Chances are we’ll learn even more about Scott Sandelin’s men this week when they visit fellow league strugglers Colorado College.

8.) MINNESOTA STATE (14-8-2, 8-8-0)
Last time: OTL v Wisconsin 4-3 Jan. 11; OTL v Wisconsin 2-1 Jan. 12
Next time: At Alaska Anchorage Friday and Saturday

  • Mike Hastings’ Mavericks shocked the college hockey world in November when MSU swept Wisconsin in Madison, but the Badgers returned the favor last weekend in Mankato. They were understandable losses – both came in overtime and UW has been on a major hot streak – but MSU needs to get back to winning ways this week at last-place Alaska Anchorage.

9.) COLORADO COLLEGE (9-13-2, 6-9-1)
Last time: W at North Dakota 4-3 Jan. 11; L at North Dakota Jan. 12
Next time: V Minnesota Duluth Friday and Saturday

  • CC snapped a seven-game winless streak last Friday in its big win at seventh-ranked North Dakota, and the long-awaited victory couldn’t have come at a better time. Scott Owens’ Tigers played well in the 5-3 loss the following night, and CC ought to be feeling good about itself going into this week’s series at home against a Minnesota Duluth team that itself is looking to get back into the race to finish in the WCHA’s top six.

10.) MICHIGAN TECH (6-12-3, 3-10-3)
Last time: L at Minnesota Duluth 1-0 Jan. 11; L at Minnesota Duluth 5-4 Jan. 12
Next time: V Bemidji State Friday and Saturday

  • Having not played since winning Michigan Tech’s first Great Lakes Invitational title in a generation, last week’s sweep at the hands of Minnesota Duluth was just about the last thing the Huskies needed. Those losses to the Bulldogs have made this week’s series against Bemidji State in Houghton a very important one.

11.) BEMIDJI STATE (5-11-4, 4-7-3)
Last time: Idle last week; L v Western Michigan 6-0 Jan. 4; T v Western Michigan 2-2 Jan. 5
Next time: At Michigan Tech Friday and Saturday

  • Tom Serratore’s Beavers got pumped by a touchdown at home last Friday by Western Michigan, but BSU acquitted itself well the following night in a 2-2 tie. It will be interesting to see if the Beavers are able to take any momentum from that into this week’s big pair of games at MTU.

12.) ALASKA ANCHORAGE (3-13-4, 1-12-3)
Last time: L at Minnesota 4-3 Jan. 11; L at Minnesota 7-1 Jan. 12
Next time: V Minnesota State Friday and Saturday

  • The Seawolves probably should’ve picked up a win last Friday in Minneapolis, but breaks didn’t go their way in the end – That’s hockey for you. However, UAA has now lost each of its last eight and hasn’t won in a month and a half. Can Dave Shyiak’s club get a W this weekend at home to Minnesota State?

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