College Hockey Rankings are stupid. None of it matters and life is pointless. That’s what I’m obligated to say after how UMD has performed over the last month. For the rest of the nation, there is still hope. Hope that your team will beat conference rivals. Hope that you can get one five-second clip of national attention. There’s even hope that you can make the playoffs still.
Updated Weekly Picks
This week we’re going big. Who cares that the record is what draws people in. You just gotta risk it for the biscuit! If you think you’re smarter than me, prove it. You can go on BettorEdge and either set your own lines or pick up one that someone else (me) has already thrown out there. I’ll be putting affordable lines out there on each of these if you’re just looking to “dabble” a bit. Just make sure to use “10K” at sign-up.
Explaining the Minnesota Rankings:
1. University of Minnesota – Gophers
The Gophs continue to roll and perform against the best talent in the country. They could take the easy way out and schedule a cakewalk to start the season like
the Nittany Lions some other Big10 teams, but they chose to take the “battle tested” route. Last weekend that practice paid off in conference play against Michigan. While it wasn’t a dominant performance or a clean sweep, they showed that they are who we thought they were with a win and a tie on the road at Yost Arena.
2. St. Cloud State – Huskies
The St Cloud State University Huskies are officially BACK. Sweeping Western Michigan is a feat accomplished by few in the last few years. Doing it IN Kalamazoo is almost unheard of. That barn is incredible and coming out of there with back to back dubs is enough for me to say that their early season issues have been fixed.
3. University of Minnesota, Duluth – Bulldogs
The Bulldogs dropped two games, again. That makes six straight without a win, and some fans have dubbed it #NoWinNovember. Personally, I think they’re a year early on that hashtag, but I get it. The club is having a tough time getting their feet under them in games lately, giving up a 3-goal lead to each of their last three opponents, all of which are top ten teams in the nation. It’s not a stretch to say that isn’t a winning formula, so the results shouldn’t be surprising.
4. St. Thomas University – Tommies
The Tommies took on the Ohio Nightmare, formerly known as Bowling Green State University. It might be unfair to say that since the latest round of news and drama surrounding the school came out AFTER the weekend series, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s been continuing to fester in that program for a while. The St Paul elite swept that lowly Ohio team 4-1 & 4-3 on the weekend. Just a year ago we were making big news stories about the Tommies getting clean sweeps and now that news is getting swept under the rug. This program is here to stay.
5. Minnesota State – Mavericks
The Mavericks took their turn beating up on Ferris State for the first time this season. Normally that program gives the boys in purple and gold fits, but that must be reserved for the second series this season. There’s an argument to put them ahead of the Tommies, but it’s all personal preference at this point. The fact that it took OT to in on Saturday lets me know that the Mavs have got fight, but lack the top end talent they’ve had historically. (Obviously).
6. Bemidji State – Beavers
The Beavs looked dead in the water, not only to start this season, but this past weekend as well. On Saturday it was more of the same as they gave up four goals. What was different is that they came back to score SIX UNANSWERED to win the game. THAT is the kind of grit and determination we’re used to seeing out of the boys from Bemidji, so it’s nice to finally see them rounding into form. Hopefully that confidence can be carried forward.
National College Hockey Rankings Roundup
It finally happened. The Wisconsin Badgers made it to the top of the national rankings after finishing as the worst team in the Big10 by a mile and near the bottom of all respectable College Hockey teams a year ago. If you ask anyone from Grand Forks, they’ll tell you that it’s asinine to have Wisco ahead of them. While that’s typically standard fodder you could ignore as white noise out of the NodDak, there is actually some credence to the argument. The Fighting Hawks are the only team to top Wisco this season.
News From the Far East
The Maine Black Bears proved that they are more than just a flash in the pan after beating Boston College outright on Friday and taking them to an OT tie again on Saturday. Some are saying that their rink is an unfair advantage with the atmosphere while others are saying that more programs should be encouraging the student section to run wild and let them bring the energy. BU took note of their cross-town rival stumbling and decided to show out with a weekend sweep and a DOMINATING 6-1 win Saturday as they start to climb back up the rankings.
Cornell and Quinnipiac are all alone from the ECAC after Harvard’s struggles to start the season. That said, they’re both contenders to make deep playoff runs if they continue playing like they have this season. My personal opinion is that Cornell will overtake Q-Pac before the season is over. People forget that Big Red was not far from making the frozen four last year and only brought in more skill for the top-end. Their success is a surprise to some, but not this
writer mediocre blogger.
We’ve finally got representation from Atlantic Hockey on the poll again…sort of. RIT managed to find their way onto the USCHO Poll, but haven’t broken through the barrier for USA Hockey yet. I get called a hater for these takes every time I post it, but Atlantic Hockey is simply worse than the other conferences as a whole. Nobody will ever know if any of those teams are actually “good” until one of them makes it to the playoffs as a 16-seed.
Note: The National Rankings Roundup 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
#17/18 Notre Dame @ #6 Minnesota – Fri & Sat, Nov. 17/18
20.5 – PP% – 18.5
89.7 – PK% – 78.8
52.8 – FO% – 49.6
1.292 – GF/GA – 1.333
.934 – SV% – .919
Vibes: This weekend, the Golden Domers make their way into Mariucci to take on Minnesota for the first time this season. If you took the Gophers off of Notre Dame’s schedule last year, Ryan Bischel could have been in the Mike Righter Award conversation. Without Cooley, Knies, and Faber on the team to terrorize the Irish, I expect this years games to be significantly closer. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Snuggy and Moore either. They’re both dangerous and shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone, but they’re not on the same point trajectory as the top group a season ago.
Before the pucks dropped this season, I picked the Irish to finish near the bottom in the Big10. With the meteoric rise of Wisconsin and Michigan State combined with Minnesota and Michigan’s consistency, it’s looking like that’s still in the cards. That being said, the Irish are on a bit of a hot streak after sweeping Ohio State last weekend.
Prediction: Gophers lead start to finish in both and sweep the weekend unless Bischel plays with hate in his heart and gets revenge for last season.
Minnesota, Duluth @ #17/19 St Cloud State – Fri & Sat, Nov 17/18
35.7 – PP% – 20.9
76.7 – PK% – 85.7
50.4– FO% – 52.7
0.838 – GF/GA – 1.261
.897 – SV% – .906
Vibes: While UMD’s most common opponent of all time are the Huskies of Michigan Tech, they take the road to face off with the Huskies of St Cloud State this weekend. At the rate these two teams play, they’ll be the most-faced opponent for one another in no time. The last two seasons ended with these programs meeting one another in the first round of the NCHC playoffs after having already played one another in two series during the season. That type of frequency is a breeding ground for animosity both on the ice and within both fanbases. Unfortunately for UMD, that probably means more penalties.
While their power play is still humming along at nearly a 36% clip, their Penalty Kill is less than stellar. Sandelin is obviously happy with the output on the man advantage, but emphasized the importance of being more effective when playing 5-on-5 hockey. Specifically, he referenced the defensive nature and points that need to improve before wins start coming.
Playing on an Olympic sheet is a dying art. Luke Loheit talked with Matt Wellens of the Duluth News Tribune on the Bulldogs Insider podcast and said he’s one of the lunatics that loves it. Given how he’s performed and his position on the team, it’s not that surprising. Defenders tend to have a different opinion most of the time and UMD’s defense has their work cut out for them. The Flying Finns from SCSU have always saved their best games for UMD. At least that’s how it seems on the books.
Prediction: UMD finds a way to win on Friday, but falls back into bad habits to leave the fans disappointed on Saturday. Split.
Bemidji State @ Minnesota State – Fri & Sat, Nov 17/18
16.7 – PP% – 11.4
68.8 – PK% – 79.3
46.5 – FO% – 48.5
0.794 – GF/GA – 1.091
.886 – SV% – .910
Vibes: Two to three years ago, this series was circled as a critical matchup in the CCHA for who was most likely to win the conference. While the Mavericks dominated most of those games and were favored in all of them they tended to be incredible hockey to watch. It wasn’t a boat-race like BU vs BC and isn’t as highly regarded, but if you’re a fan of a more physical style, it was built for you.
Prediction: The Mavs are simply having more fun this season than the Beavs are and you know that Bemidji can’t win three in a row, but I think they stumble into a split.
Other College Hockey Games to Watch
#9 Maine @ #8 Boston University – Fri & Sat, Nov 17/18
14.7 – PP% – 22.7
88.0 – PK% – 78.9
55.8 – FO% – 51.1
1.444 – GF/GA – 1.379
.903 – SV% – .898
Vibes: The College Hockey rankings simply look better with Maine in them. You don’t even get to see their elite sweaters when it’s all just names and numbers and that’s still true. The Black Bears started hot and have stayed there, proving themselves every step of the way. This week, they’ll have to take on top talent without the home crowd to back them up.
Lane Hutson is an absolute animal and living up to the expectations and standard that he set last season. Macklin Celebrini is the best true freshman in all of College Hockey. Imagine being 17 and walking around 24 year olds to score highlight reel goals in front of a rabid hockey school every weekend. If I were him, I’d never want to leave. With the San Jose Sharks currently waiting, he might not want to either.
Prediction: BU takes the series with a regulation and an OT win.
#10 Cornell @ #7 Quinnipiac – Fri, Nov 17
20.0 – PP% – 17.8
80.0 – PK% – 94.9
53.2 – FO% – 54.4
2.625 – GF/GA – 2.316
.927 – SV% – .926
Vibes: This should be a fun preview of the ECAC championship game in the spring. If it’s anyone other than these two, it’s a disappointment for the hockey community. With Perets having moved on, it’s Ian Shane leading the conference as the best goaltender, and if you ask me, it’s by a pretty wide margin. Q-Pac still has talent to account for that can explode any given night and they’re playing at home, but the swagger of last season seems to be missing. Call it a championship hangover or whatever you want, but this team is vulnerable and Cornell is hungry.
Prediction: Bears > Bobcats. Cornell continues to show that they’re the class of the conference this year.
#1 Wisconsin @ #11 Michigan State – Fri & Sat, Nov 17/18
22.0 – PP% – 27.8
89.2 – PK% – 83.9
52.5 – FO% – 49.8
1.944 – GF/GA – 1.350
.929 – SV% – .903
Vibes: SIT BACK AND WATCH THE FIREWORKS. I feel like I’ve been saying that every weekend with these schools and it’s been true every time. Karsen Dorwart, Isaac Howard, and Red Savage are all among the top scorers in College Hockey and have been LETHAL on the ice for Michigan State. Wisconsin has more of an even spread on points in their team, but still manage to find the back of the net plenty.
The Badgers will have to go back to the approach they took against Michigan and Minnesota if they plan to stop Sparty’s studs. Laying the body on the line to block shots and winning the little battles has been a big part of Hastings game plans throughout his coaching career, so I don’t expect that to stop now.
Prediction: The over hits. Honestly, I don’t know what to say for official scores or who’s winning, but these guys put up NUMBIES. If I had to pick, I’d say Wisconsin’s got the edge because of the senior players on the roster.
Alaska Anchorage vs #14 Arizona State – Fri & Sat, Nov 17/18
17.5 – PP% – 27.7
76.9 – PK% – 78.4
50.7 – FO% – 49.8
0.816 – GF/GA – 1.200
.904 – SV% – .895
Vibes: Calling this one the Sweater Showdown of the week. Arizona State has released and performed in some beautiful unis this season, but a favorite seems to be the “Glitter J’s” that they debuted at the Hockey Hall of Fame game last season. Anchorage and their classic Seawolves logo jersey has been and will continue to be one of the best in the sport. Put these two together and it’s a beautiful thing. There isn’t a football fan on the planet that can deny the Packers x San Francisco jersey matchup is one of the best there is. This is the same thing, but on ice, so way cooler.
Prediction: Sun Devils win big both nights.
Previous 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.
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.
Argue with me on Twitter: @venividiveech