What we have here is a conference split in half. Denver maintains a strong grip on the top spot, but the next five are all very close. Then there’s a big drop-off to the bottom six, where everyone is searching for wins in hopes of breaking into that top tier.
1. Denver (7-1-0, 5-1-0 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Pioneers were certainly challenged by Minnesota State, but they still managed to come away with a sweep, winning 4-3 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. Daniel Doremus and Chris Knowlton each had two goals on the weekend, with Doremus scoring Friday’s game-winner and Knowlton scoring Saturday’s. Denver went 0-for-12 on the power play in the series, but it’s still at a healthy 20 percent on the season.
2. Minnesota (6-2-1, 3-2-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Gophers took three of four points at Alaska-Anchorage, winning 4-0 on Friday before tying 2-2 on Saturday. That’s enough to hang onto the second spot for another week, but the four teams behind them are certainly knocking on the door. Erik Haula had three points in the series, while Kyle Rau, Travis Boyd and Nate Schmidt all had two. Minnesota went 5-for-11 on the power play and is now at 28.6 percent on the season.
3. Colorado College (7-3-0, 4-0-0 WCHA) — Last week: 5
The Tigers jump up two spots after sweeping Bemidji with a 3-2 win Friday and 6-3 win Saturday. Since getting swept at Cornell, they’ve won four in a row. Rylan Schwartz had two goals and three assists on the weekend, while Archie Skalbeck, William Rapuzzi and Scott Winkler registered four points apiece. Josh Thorimbert and Joe Howe each played well in net, and it appears they will continue to split starts for the time being.
4. North Dakota (4-3-1, 2-1-1 WCHA) — Last week: 3
North Dakota split at St. Cloud, winning 3-0 on Friday before losing 5-2 on Saturday. In one of the oddest stats of the season, UND is now 4-0-0 on Fridays and 0-3-1 on Saturdays. Clarke Saunders earned his second shutout of the season on Friday, while Saturday was really his first off game. Corban Knight, Mark MacMillan and Derek Forbort all had multi-point weekends.
5. St. Cloud State (6-4-0, 4-2-0 WCHA) — Last week: 4
The Huskies remain just behind North Dakota following their split. Drew LeBlanc and Joe Rehkamp each had three points on Saturday, while Nic Dowd had two. LeBlanc and Dowd are now tied for the conference lead in points with 14. The Huskies certainly had a disciplined weekend, as they gave North Dakota just two power plays in the series.
6. Nebraska-Omaha (6-3-1, 4-1-1 WCHA) — Last week: 6
The Mavericks earned their second straight sweep by beating Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday. Although they don’t move up, they’ve certainly pulled closer to the teams in front of them. John Faulkner stopped 61 of 66 shots in the series and remained undefeated on the season. UNO’s top line of Ryan Walters, Dominic Zombo and Josh Archibald combined for five goals and eight assists on the weekend.
7. Bemidji State (2-3-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) — Last week: 7
The Beavers got swept by Colorado College, but they stay at seven because no one else did anything to warrant passing them. Saturday’s loss marked the first game in which Andrew Walsh has allowed more than three goals. He still ranks third in the conference with a .924 save percentage. Ben Kinne had two assists in the series and now has a five-game point streak.
8. Alaska-Anchorage (2-3-3, 0-2-2 WCHA) — Last week: 10
The Seawolves mustered one point against Minnesota, which is just enough to bump them ahead of two teams that got swept. Chris Kamal struggled in goal on Friday, while Rob Gunderson stopped 31 of 33 shots on Saturday to remain unbeaten on the season. Special teams have been a big problem, as the Seawolves are last in the league on both the power play (7.7 percent) and penalty kill (73.0 percent).
9. Minnesota State (3-5-2, 1-5-0 WCHA) — Last week: 9
Despite outshooting Denver 68-43 on the weekend, the Mavericks came away with zero points and dropped to 1-5-0 in their last six. Jean-Paul Lafontaine recorded two goals and two assists in the series to give him seven points in his last four games. Phil Cook got pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots Friday, and Stephon Williams stopped 27 of 31 shots the rest of the weekend.
10. Wisconsin (1-4-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) — Last week: 11
The Badgers had the weekend off, but they move up one spot as UMD slides right past them.
11. Minnesota-Duluth (2-5-1, 0-3-1 WCHA) — Last week: 8
The Bulldogs dropped to 0-4-1 in their last five after getting swept by UNO. They did go 3-for-9 on the power play, but they also went just 6-for-10 on the penalty kill. Matt McNeely didn’t exactly run with the starting job, as he surrendered nine goals on 53 shots.
12. Michigan Tech (2-6-0, 1-5-0 WCHA) — Last week: 12
The Huskies didn’t play over the weekend, so they stay at 12. They’ll ride a five-game losing streak into this weekend’s series at Bemidji.