It’s been two weeks since we published our CCHA Rankings and much has transpired within the league since that time. Here now is our latest edition of the Power Rankings:
1. Miami (6-2-2, 3-2-1 CCHA). Last time: 2.
The RedHawks have cut down on the number of opportunities they’re allowing to opposing teams, and the end-result has been two wins and a tie (with the added point of a shootout win) in their last three games. Riley Barber’s 14 points leads the nation in rookie scoring by a long shot, while Austin Czarnik paces the country in shorthanded goals (3) thus far. The duo was honored in October as the CCHA’s Rookie and Player of the Month, respectively, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. Can rookie netminder Jay Williams continue to carry the load between the pipes through the winter in Oxford?
2. Alaska (5-3-2, 3-2-1 CCHA). Last time: 4
The Nanooks have lost just one time in their last five games and enter this weekend’s series with Western Michigan after earning a win and tie in Columbus last weekend against Ohio State. Though Alaska has benefited from timely scoring from upperclassmen like Andy Taranto and Colton Beck and a penalty kill (89%) that ranks ninth nationally, the intriguing story has come in net, as coach Dallas Ferguson has equally played three goaltenders thus far. Rookie John Keeney was in net for both games at OSU last weekend and played well, turning aside 65 of the Buckeyes’ 67 shots on goal.
3. Western Michigan (5-2-1, 2-1-1 CCHA). Last time: 5.
Since our last Power Rankings, the Broncos earned a split at Notre Dame and took 5 out of a possible 6 points from Bowling Green. Defense has been the strong suit for Andy Murray’s team, as WMU has allowed just 16 goals all year. Problem is, they’ve scored an average of just 2.38 per game and are still looking for a more productive offense.
4. Notre Dame (6-3-0, 3-1-1 CCHA). Last time: 1.
The Irish continue to play well, especially on the penalty kill (seventh best PK unit in the nation despite a recent sub-par performance against Western Michigan), and it’s hard to fault Notre Dame too heavily for last week’s loss against Boston College (we’re talking hockey, not football). The concern for the Irish right now is that while Anders Lee remains productive, averaging a point per game as usual, T.J. Tynan has been uncharacteristically anemic — pointless now in five straight. The junior superstar has never previously gone longer than two games without registering a point, and his play will be crucial to the Irish’s success going forward — including this weekend with a big series in Ann Arbor against Michigan.
5. Michigan State (4-5-1, 3-3-0 CCHA). Last time: 9.
The Spartans jump from No. 9 to No. 5 in the Power Rankings on the strength of a 3-2-0 record in their last five games and most notably their 7-2 stomping of Michigan last Saturday night, showing resiliency after a Friday night 5-1 loss. Matt Berry registered a hat trick while linemates Brent Darnell and Matt DeBlouw added a goal and two assists each. Keep an eye on whether Saturday’s game serves as a springboard for the Spartans’ top line. In addition, the strength for MSU so far has been its power play (11 of 44), ranking in the top 10 in the nation in terms of efficiency.
6. Michigan (4-4-1, 2-3-1 CCHA). Last time: 3
A.J. Treais continues to be a point-producing machine, and the Wolverines’ offense has for the most part been just fine. But the big issue in Ann Arbor has been the flailing Wolverine defense, which has incredibly allowed four goals or more in five straight games. In those five games, Michigan has a 1-4-0 record. The consequence has been a goaltending situation very much in flux. After Steve Racine struggled in a weekend series two weeks ago at Northern Michigan, fellow rookie Jared Rutledge got the start last Friday. After earning a 5-1 win that night, Rutledge returned to the pipes Saturday when the series shifted to East Lansing… and was ultimately pulled in favor of Racine after allowing five goals. So that’s the story for Michigan right now, and the Wolverines no longer have an unheralded walk-on goaltender to rely on as they did the last two years.
7. Lake Superior (5-5-0, 3-3-0 CCHA). Last time: 10
The Lakers have won two of three and in fact played well enough to win three straight — last Saturday’s 2-1 stumble against Ferris State came despite a shot advantage for Lake State of 44-28. Junior Kevin Murdock seems to be the No. 1 goaltender for now.
8. Ferris State (4-4-2, 3-3-0 CCHA). Last time: 8.
C.J. Motte continues to provide stability for the Bulldogs, last year’s national runner-up, as they continue to seek consistency. In a league defined by parity thus far this season, a .500 record isn’t a bad place to be heading into this weekend’s series against Boweling Green.
9. Northern Michigan (4-4-2, 1-3-2 CCHA). Last time: 7.
The Wildcats continue to stumble. Named CHN’s Team of the Week a month ago after a sweep of Wisconsin, NMU has won just twice in eight games since. Still, the Wildcats have managed points in three of their last four and will look to halt their skid against Ohio State this weekend.
10. Ohio State (2-3-3, 1-1-2 CCHA). Last time: 6.
The problem for the Buckeyes has been their offense, as OSU has scored just 13 goals in eight games thus far — the worst offense in the league and one of the worst in the nation (ranking 56th out of 59 Division I teams). In their last six games, the Buckeyes have scored more than one goal only once. Lost in the story of the lost offense is that Ohio State’s goaltenders — senior Brady Hjelle and freshman Collin Olson — have played well, splitting the time in net so far.
11. Bowling Green (2-6-3, 1-3-2 CCHA). Last time: 11.
The Falcons, winners of just one in their last seven, stay at the bottom of the Power Rankings. Like Ohio State, Bowling Green has struggled to find consistent offense. There’s potential though, especially in the Falcons’ sophomore class, so we’ll see if they can build on last Saturday’s tie against Western Michigan.