What took place this weekend across the DI men’s college hockey circuit made for the toughest Power 10 I’ve had so far this season.
A couple of things led to that being the case. For one, then-No. 1 Michigan and then-No. 2 St. Cloud State were swept by then-No. 14 Notre Dame and then-No. 13 Western Michigan, respectively. Both teams are extremely deserving of spots in the top 10. Normally, teams in the bottom half of my rankings that had a bad loss would be bumped for teams that put up performances like Western Michigan and Notre Dame.
But this week was different. Teams ranked in the back half of last week’s Power 10 didn’t have any bad losses. Omaha put up two really good wins over Alaska Fairbanks. Denver did the same against Miami (OH), as did Cornell against Brown and Yale. Even though UMass lost in OT to New Hampshire Saturday, it had one of its best wins of the season so far the previous night against the Wildcats.
This was a difficult one to put together. Let’s dive in.
1. Minnesota State (11-3) | Prev: 3
The Mavericks find themselves atop these rankings for two main reasons: They’ve been rolling of late, and Michigan and St. Cloud State were swept.
Minnesota State had no issue with St. Thomas, outscoring the Tommies 14-0 over the two games. That’s two more shutouts for Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay, who just keeps on extending his NCAA DI men’s ice hockey record for shutouts.
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A weekend like this only helped Minnesota State offensively, as it surpassed Michigan for most goals in the country with 62.
Next up is a weekend set with Lake Superior State.
2. Michigan (10-4) | Prev: 1
Michigan had a tough weekend, as it had 2-0 leads in both games. What the Wolverines also did was watch those leads dissipate to Notre Dame, who beat them in OT two straight nights. Friday was 3-2, Saturday was 5-4. They were two very tight games. Notre Dame outshot Michigan on Friday, while the roles were reversed in the shot department on Saturday.
This isn’t cause for concern for the Maize and Blue. This just means the Fighting Irish are going to be a legitimate threat in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines will play Niagara this weekend.
3. St. Cloud State (9-5) | Prev: 2
While Michigan’s sweep was close, this one was not.
The Huskies had trouble containing Western Michigan’s offense, losing 6-2 on Friday and 4-0 Saturday. This is now three consecutive losses.
Still, it’s not cause for concern…yet. I couldn’t move this St. Cloud State team past No. 3 this week because this is a really good, deep team that I expect to be back in the Frozen Four. Teams go through rough stretches.
Next weekend provides a series at home with North Dakota. That will be a massive test for the Huskies and, most importantly, a real chance to right the ship against a very good opponent.
4. Minnesota Duluth (8-3-1) | Prev: 5
The Bulldogs had a quality weekend on the road this past weekend, splitting a series with North Dakota. In the 4-1 win Friday night, graduate student forward Casey Gilling registered a pair of goals.
Goalie Ryan Fanti continued his terrific play, stopping 23 of 24 shots Friday and then 21 of 23 in the 2-1 loss Saturday night.
Here’s a fun fact that will excite Minnesota Duluth fans. Guess which team is No. 1 for USCHO’s PairWise rankings? That’s right: the Bulldogs. They’ve had a tough schedule and done really well with it, which is why they find themselves that high.
Up next is a home series with Alaska Fairbanks this weekend.
5. Quinnipiac (10-1-3) | Prev: 4
The Bobcats had a solid weekend of ECAC play this past weekend, tying a very good Clarkson team, 2-2, and crushing St. Lawrence, 8-0. The game against Clarkson will go in the books as a tie, but Quinnipiac did win in the shootout.
I had the Bobcats at No. 4 last week, and rightfully so. The only reason they move down a spot is because I really liked how Minnesota Duluth played against North Dakota. The Bobcats could easily jump back up.
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In that 8-0 rout, senior forward Ethan de Jong continued his stellar season, posting a hat trick. Sophomore forward Ty Smilanic potted two, which brought his goal total to seven on the season — that leads Quinnipiac.
Next up is a road trip. First will be Rensselaer and then the following night brings Union.
6. North Dakota (9-4) | Prev: 6
The Fighting Hawks split their series with Minnesota Duluth this weekend. It wasn’t the greatest of weekends for them, but escaping with a win against a really good Bulldogs team is still solid.
Forward Brendan Budy scored the game-winner in the 2-1 win on Saturday night. It hasn’t been an easy season for the junior, as he missed the first five games of the year with an injury. When he returned, he was slotted in on the fourth line.
— UND Insider (@UNDinsider) November 21, 2021
A game-winning goal like this against a rival like Minnesota Duluth could be just what Budy needs to spark more quality minutes.
Things don’t get any easier for the Fighting Hawks. Next up is a weekend series with Minnesota.
7. Western Michigan (8-4) | Prev: NR
Guess who’s back…back again…
Oh, look: It’s Western Michigan who’s back. This past weekend, the Broncos did their monthly thing where they upset a team ranked in the top two. Last month it was Michigan. This time it was St. Cloud State.
HOW SWEEP IT IS: Here’s how Western Michigan swept St. Cloud State
As previously mentioned, the Broncos played the Huskies perfectly, even being outshot, 36-24, in the 4-0 win in Game 2. They generated quality scoring chances and shut St. Cloud State down in the defensive zone. Junior goalie Brandon Bussi was particularly spectacular in that second game, stopping all 36 shots he faced.
Next up is a weekend set with St. Lawrence.
8. Minnesota (8-6) | Prev: 8
The Golden Gophers had their third straight weekend split with a Big Ten opponent, falling to Penn State, 5-3, on Friday and then beating the Nittany Lions, 4-2, Saturday.
It was inconsistency that plagued Minnesota this past weekend. Goalie Jack LaFontaine, who hasn’t been quite the same Mike Richter award winner we saw last year, allowed five goals on 26 shots in the 5-3 loss. However, he played much better the next night, stopping 35 of 37 Penn State shots to earn a win.
The Gophers have two massive series ahead of them. First will be going on the road to North Dakota. Then it’ll be the matchup we’ve all been waiting for: a date with Michigan. Those are two tone-setting weekends for the rest of Minnesota’s season.
9. Notre Dame (10-3) | Prev: NR
Welcome to the Power 10, Notre Dame. After sweeping the No. 1 team in the country, it’s only fitting the Fighting Irish find a spot in these rankings. But it’s not just the sweep of Michigan that got them on here. They’ve won six straight games. This series sweep also helps their case after being swept by Minnesota in late October.
The Fighting Irish got a huge performance out of sophomore forward Ryder Rolston in the first game, as he scored both the tying goal in the third period and the OT-winner. The next night it was junior forward Max Ellis potting a hat trick in the 5-4 OT win.
His third goal was the most important of the three.
— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) November 21, 2021
Next up is a home game against Boston College on Nov. 26.
10. UMass (7-4-1) | Prev: 10
This No. 10 slot was a tough one to pick, but I kept UMass in this spot.
The Minutemen put together a terrific, 60-minute effort against New Hampshire on Friday night, beating the Wildcats, 3-0. Captain Bobby Trivigno led the way with two goals in the shutout win.
On Saturday night, UMass found itself down 1-0 very late in the third period. Then freshman d-man Scott Morrow fired home the game-tying goal with less than two seconds left on the clock. How’s that for excitement? That momentum was ended when UNH won the game in overtime.
— UMass Hockey (@UMassHockey) November 21, 2021
UMass gets next weekend off before a weekend series with UMass Lowell to open December.