We’ve reached the halfway point of the College Hockey season where more than half of all programs have already started their holiday break. The teams are finally getting the chance to rest up and collet themselves. Everywhere that is, except for the state(s) of hockey. Minnesota and Michigan make up half of all of the games that will be played this weekend before EVERYONE is off for 10 days. Some people will always question who’s the most dedicated to hockey, but when you really dig down, there’s no question at all.
Explaining the Minnesota Rankings:
1. University of Minnesota – GophersTwo Big10 sweeps in a row for the Gophers. Obviously this Wisconsin sweep wasn’t as impressive or impactful. That being said, outscoring a team 13-5 is a nice way to go into the holiday break.
2. St. Cloud State – Huskies
Maybe the biggest eye-opening upset of the weekend happened in Miami…Ohio. After steamrolling the Redhawks 7-3 on Friday, the Huskies suffered a 0-5 shutout loss on Saturday. They’ll have A LOT to think about on the long road-trips back home.
3. Minnesota State – MavericksMavs bounced back to reality by sweeping Bowling Green, who was leading the CCHA at the time. Friday’s game was a bit nerve racking for people in Mankato, but Saturday was a comfortable win.
4. University of Minnesota, Duluth – Bulldogs
UMD took two points on the weekend against the #1 team in the country. Sure, both of those points came via an overtime loss, but that’s the negative spin. Positively, they are the only team other than UMass to prevent Denver from wining a game in regulation over a weekend series. One would think that would be enough to move up the Pairwise…but apparently that’s wrong.
5. Bemidji State – BeaversYikes. Losing to a team that had only won a single game all year is tough. Yeah, the loss occurred in OT and it was a decent game for Bemidji, but that’s arguably the worst possible loss they could have all year.
6. St. Thomas University – Tommies
Off-week for the Tommies after not earning a win the weekend prior. Tough spot to be in for a young team who was just gaining momentum and confidence.
National Rankings Roundup
Once again, all three of the top teams in the nation swept the weekend and improved their resumes. Sure, it took Denver late goals and OT to secure both of their victories, but they still got them. One team who did not is St. Cloud, but they’ve done enough to this point in the season that they kept their ranking.
Rankings that deviate from the average (high or low) are highlighted. Once again, the Pairwise weight has been increased from last week. It will make a big jump when the season picks back up for everyone in January, but we’re still tinkering with it right now.Note: The National Rankings RoundupTM weighs each of the ranking sources instead of treating them all as equal. This takes into account the credibility of source, potential committee influence, what data they utilize, evident bias, and amount of teams ranked.
Minnesota College Hockey Games
Bemidji @ #16 Minnesota State – Thurs & Fri, Dec 15/16
As a totally impartial observer without any skin in this series whatsoever, a split is what I want to see. It keeps the Mavericks in the national conversation while elevating Bemidji’s Pairwise ranking as well. It would mean a better opportunity to see more Minnesota teams in the playoffs, which we all want. That would require an at-large bid for the Mavs and a CCHA tourney win for Bemidji, but we all saw how close that was to happening last year. It would also keep UMD’s losses more respectable while also elevating future opponents (Bemidji) to increase their potential to climb the rankings faster in the new year. But that’s totally irrelevant and not at all why I want the split. Also of note: Minnesota State has lost four of their last five games at home following Bemidji’s win on Thursday night.
Prediction: Splitsville, USA. Population: Theses two.
Ferris State @ St. Thomas – Fri & Sat, Dec 16/17
Believe it or not, but these two teams have split every series since St. Thomas joined the CCHA. This year, St. Thomas already owns a 7-5 lead over Ferris State. For whatever reason, the Tommies have figured out how to play their best hockey when the Bulldogs are on the opposite side of the ice. It’s a common (frequent) opponent that brings some immediate confidence to the boys in St. Paul. The only thing that’s more of a guarantee this year is Penn State splitting against other ranked Big 10 opponents.
Prediction: Ferris State is a sucker for tradition and splits the series.
Other College Hockey Games to Watch
#14 Ohio State @ Bowling Green – Fri & Sat, Dec 16/17
A lot of games have laid claim to this title, but this is THE battle of Ohio. Okay, maybe not, but it’s certainly one of them! Until last week, Bowling green was at the top of their conference and Ohio State was still among the best in the country. The Buckeyes managed to stay relevant despite another weekend split, but BGSU lost most of their hope for an at-large bid after losing both to Minnesota State. Both will be battling it out, but the Buckeyes have got the better squad this season.
Prediction: Ohio State uses the series as a confidence and record boost. Buckeyes in both.
#Alaska-Anchorage @ Alaska (Fairbanks) – Fri & Sat, Dec 9/10
The Governor’s cup continues in back-to-back weekends for these two teams. Hand-up, I was totally wrong about how competitive this series was going to be. Does that mean I’ve learned my lesson? Absolutely not. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Seawolves program and it’s 100% due to the superior logo they’ve got. As Deion Sanders famously said, “Look good-feel good. Feel good-play good”.
Prediction: I’m doubling down on my claim that the Seawolves break the streak and ACTUALLY earn a split this weekend. They’ll lose the cup, but it’s a moral victory.
Lindenwood @ #1 Denver – Fri & Sat, Dec 16/17
This will be Denver’s first series after losing some key players to the World Juniors team. With a depleted roster, the Pio’s will have to be alert and on their toes. If not, they risk getting upset by the frisky newcomer to D1 Hockey, Lindenwood
SSSSSIIIIIIIIIKKKKKKKKEEEEEEE. Denver could be playing with two lines and still win this series. Their team is legitimately that deep. Yes, Lindenwood has challenged some other good teams this season and they’re a much better team in their first year than St. Thomas or Stonehill, but they’ve got a long way to go before being able to compete with the likes of Denver.
Prediction: Denver earns two wins as a Christmas present for the Pio faithful.
#17 Michigan Tech @ Lake Superior State – Fri & Sat, Dec 16/17
From everything I’ve heard, bullying inferior people is looked down upon by Mr. Claus. Because of that, the Huskies can expect a load of coal in their stockings after what they’re about to do to Lake State. Sure, the Lakers just took down Bemidji and they’re riding that high, but I don’t that will be enough. The Huskies are finally getting some national recognition and they’re not about to let a two-win college hockey team ruin that.
Prediction: Michigan Tech takes two into the break.
Recent Previews & Picks:
Don’t know whether you can trust the picks or input? I don’t blame you. I’m not anywhere near a “Big J”. In fact, I’m just some idiot with an outlet. An idiot who watches more college hockey than 99% of the nation, but an idiot nonetheless. Take that how you will.
Alternative College Hockey Media:
Hate my predictions or don’t fancy yourself as much of a “reader”? Lucky for you, there’s plenty more College Hockey information coming out of the 10K Takes family! You can listen to The Has Beens podcast (or follow them on social media) as two former College Hockey players/National Champions (Gage Ausmus and Trevor Olson) talk with guests about their path to College Hockey, how the sport impacted their life, and where it led them after.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
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