WCHA Power Rankings: 11/21/12

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

Going into Thanksgiving, we still have a clear top six and a clear bottom six. Within those two bands, there continues to be plenty of movement, aside from at the top, where Denver has put some space between itself and the rest of the pack.

1. Denver (9-1-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Pioneers strengthened their hold on the top spot by sweeping Colorado College, winning 6-5 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday. They’ve scored three or more goals in all but one game, and they now lead the country with 4.50 goals per game. Ten different players registered multipoint weekends, with Chris Knowlton’s three goals and two assists leading the way. Knowlton now has eight goals in the last five games. Denver went 3-for-7 on the power play in the series.

2. Minnesota (7-2-2, 4-2-2 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Gophers stay at two after taking three of four points from Wisconsin. They tied 2-2 on Friday before coming away with a 3-1 win Saturday. Adam Wilcox stopped 38 of 41 shots on the weekend and now ranks third in the conference with a .924 save percentage. The Gophers are first in the WCHA in team defense with a 1.91 goals against average. Erik Haula registered a goal and two assists in the series and is now tied for second in the league with 14 points.

3. North Dakota (5-3-2, 3-1-2 WCHA) — Last week: 4
UND moves up one spot after taking three of four points from Minnesota-Duluth. Both games went to overtime, as they tied 4-4 on Friday before Danny Kristo set up Mark MacMillan with 34 seconds left in overtime to give UND a 4-3 win Saturday. Kristo ended up with three goals and two assists on the weekend, giving him 12 points in eight games this season. The biggest negative for UND was that it surrendered 77 shots in the series.

4. St. Cloud State (6-4-0, 4-2-0 WCHA) — Last week: 5
The Huskies had the weekend off, but they move up one spot by virtue of Colorado College getting swept.

5. Nebraska-Omaha (6-3-1, 4-1-1 WCHA) — Last week: 6
See entry No. 4. Replace “Huskies” with “Mavericks.”

6. Colorado College (7-5-0, 4-2-0 WCHA) — Last week: 3
The Tigers’ four-game winning streak and brief visit to the top three both came to an abrupt end at the hands of Denver. Josh Thorimbert and Joe Howe both struggled mightily in net, and both now have save percentages under .890 on the season. Rylan Schwartz registered two goals and an assist Friday, but was suspended for Saturday’s game for his role in an altercation at the end of Friday’s game.

7. Michigan Tech (4-6-0, 3-5-0 WCHA) — Last week: 12
The Huskies make the biggest jump this week after sweeping Bemidji State on the road. They overcame a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4 in overtime on Friday, then completed the sweep with a 2-1 overtime win on Saturday. Alex Petan scored Friday’s winner and had four points in the series, while Blake Pietila scored Saturday’s winner. Jujhar Khaira assisted on both winners and joined Petan with four points on the weekend.

8. Alaska-Anchorage (2-3-3, 0-2-2 WCHA) — Last week: 8
The Seawolves had the weekend off, so they stand pat as Tech jumps them and Bemidji drops below them.

9. Minnesota State (3-5-2, 1-5-0 WCHA) — Last week: 9
See entry No. 8. Replace “Seawolves” with “Mavericks.”

10. Bemidji State (2-5-1, 1-4-1 WCHA) — Last week: 7
The Beavers suffered a pair of narrow defeats against Michigan Tech and have now lost four in a row. Andrew Walsh, who had been a brick wall earlier in the season, surrendered five goals for the second straight game on Friday, while Mathieu Dugas made his case for more playing time by stopping 40 of 42 shots on Saturday. Ben Kinne extended his point streak to six games before having it snapped on Saturday.

11. Wisconsin (1-5-2, 1-3-2 WCHA) — Last week: 10
Wisconsin slides down one spot after dropping three of four points to Minnesota. Without Mark Zengerle, the offense continues to struggle, as it now ranks last in the league with 1.75 goals per game. Minnesota outshot the Badgers 71-41 in the series. Michael Mersch and Landon Peterson were both bright spots in Friday’s 2-2 tie, as Mersch scored both goals, while Peterson stopped 41 of 43 shots.

12. Minnesota-Duluth (2-6-2, 0-4-2 WCHA) — Last week: 11
The Bulldogs gave North Dakota all it could handle, but came away with just one point. As harsh as it seems to put them last after that series, they’re going to need to win some games to move up. They’re now 0-5-2 in their last seven. Goaltending continues to be a problem, as Aaron Crandall and Matt McNeely both have save percentages under .900 on the season. Austin Farley scored twice on Friday.

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