… Plus a look at this weekend’s match-ups from around the league.
Remember folks, this is just one writer’s opinion. This week’s rankings reflect my WCHA Media Poll ballot. These are obviously very fluid, and I will post new power rankings on a weekly basis.
Without further delay, here are my Week 0 power rankings:
1 — Colorado College
• With the Schwartz bros. leading a deep group of forwards, the Tigers could be the 2011-12 version of last season’s Minnesota Duluth squad.
2 — North Dakota
• They don’t rebuild, they just reload. Aaron Dell might be the best goalie in the conference and while UND is young, they’ll be dangerous by year’s end.
3 — Denver
• Perhaps the best overall team in the conference talent wise, the Pioneers lack a proven goaltender.
4 — Nebraska-Omaha
• The Mavericks are almost entirely made of Blais guys, and the ones that aren’t, know what to expect now. No team works or hits harder.
5 — Minnesota
• Don Lucia needs to win this season or else he’s in jeopardy of being unemployed. To do that, he’ll need his young forwards to put the puck in the net.
6 — Minnesota Duluth
• There’s still plenty of weapons up front in Duluth, but is there enough talent and depth on the blueline to sustain the defending champs?
7 — Wisconsin
• There’s always top-end talent in Madison and perhaps no team is better coached. Can Wisconsin’s get enough goaltending from their freshmen netminders?
8 — Minnesota State
• Don’t sleep on the Mavericks. Yeah, they lost their top three defensemen, but they also return their top three forwards and both goalies.
9 — St. Cloud State
• Guys that underwhelmed in support roles last season will be counted on to lead this season. Can they do it? Mike Lee will keep this group competitive by himself.
10 — Alaska-Anchorage
• The talent is young in Anchorage but it is undeniable. Can Chris Kamal prove the guy towards the end of last season was the real Chris Kamal?
11 — Bemidji State
• The Beavers return their leading scorer, their best defenseman and their goaltender, but what else is there in Bemidji?
12 — Michigan Tech
• Mel Pearson has the Huskies on the right track but it will probably be a year or two before this team is ready to push for home ice.
That said, here is a look at this weekend’s match-ups from around the league and some random jottings that come to mind about each series:
Minnesota State at RPI
• The Mavericks are tested immediately with a road series against a ranked opponent. MSU head coach Troy Jutting said in a perfect world, his young forwards wouldn’t be so stiffly tested early in the season. On the other hand, he said, it should be good for his team in the long run. If MSU can get a win in Troy, N.Y. this weekend, it would also go a long ways towards helping their Pairwise Ranking.
American International at Michigan Tech
• The Pearson era begins with a couple of very winnable games at MacInnes. Win twice this weekend and the Huskies have half of last year’s win total before conference play even begins.
Bemidji State at Miami
• A tough task for the Beavers to open the season, but if you’re going to win in Oxford, early in the season is the time to do it. At the very least, BSU will get a see how they measure up against one of the nation’s best teams in one of the nation’s toughest arenas to play in.
Notre Dame at Minnesota Duluth
In perhaps the series of the weekend, the defending champs open against this season’s top-ranked team. It’s sure to be an emotional weekend at AMSOIL, as the ‘Dogs will unveil their championship banner before Friday’s game. One would think that should be good for at least one win.
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin
The youthful Badgers will open at home — a fact sure to help a Wisconsin team with 20 underclassmen on the roster. The Kohl Center is as big a home ice advantage as there is in the country, so playing in front of the Cardinal and White should help Wisconsin’s kids get acclimated early.
Sacred Heart at Minnesota
The Golden Gophers must get a couple of wins to help ease the pressure on head coach Don Lucia. In a season where fans expect results or walking papers, losing at home to the Pioneers would not be a good way to start.
Nebraska-Omaha hosts Mutual of Omaha Stampede
The red Mavericks should have no trouble winning twice this weekend. With games against Mercyhurst and either Robert Morris or Colgate, at least that what fans in Omaha should be thinking.
North Dakota hosts the Ice Breaker
The Fighting Sioux open with a game they should win against Air Force before a great second game match-up against either Boston College or Michigan State. UND is inexperienced up front, so scoring early on Dell and/or Eidsness would certainly help the Eagles or Spartans chances of scoring a tournament victory.
Alaska-Anchorage hosts St. Cloud State, Fairbanks, Clarkson at Kendall Classic
UAA opens with Clarkson before hosting conference foe SCSU in a nonconference game. If Anchorage can win twice, it would go a long ways towards giving an already confident team even more confidence. SCSU begins with a bunch of early season road games, and head coach Bob Motzko says its as good a time as any to spend time in Alaska. A couple losses this weekend may change his tune.
As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@CHNDanMyers) for the latest news and notes (plus random thoughts and musings) about the WCHA. See you at the rink!