The holidays are over, and that means we’re back to conference play. Although I didn’t have time to write up last week’s blog entry, I did tweet out my rankings. So the “Last week” does actually refer to last week and not pre-break.
1. Minnesota (14-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers beat Notre Dame 4-1 on Tuesday to extend their unbeaten streak to six games. Prior to that, they outscored Air Force and Boston College 12-1 en route to winning the Mariucci Classic. Nick Bjugstad had two goals and four assists in the tournament, while Sam Warning, Nate Condon and Zach Budish each had two points in Tuesday’s victory over the Irish.
2. North Dakota (12-5-3, 7-2-3 WCHA) — Last week: 2
UND extended its unbeaten streak to seven games by sweeping Holy Cross over the weekend, winning 5-2 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. They outshot the Crusaders 78-34 in the series. Corban Knight registered two goals and four assists on the weekend and is now tied for third in the country with 29 points on the season. He has a 15-game point streak, and has multiple points in each of the last five.
3. Denver (12-6-3, 7-4-3 WCHA) — Last week: 4
Apparently a couple weeks off was exactly what the Pioneers needed to get back on track. After destroying Boston University to close out 2012, they opened 2013 with a sweep of Cornell. Juho Olkinuora started all three of those games and stopped 85 of 87 shots, solidifying him as the clear No. 1 for the time being. Quentin Shore had a goal and an assist against BU and two goals in Friday’s win over Cornell.
4. Minnesota State (14-6-2, 8-6-0 WCHA) — Last week: 5
The Mavericks swept Providence over the weekend to improve to 11-1-0 in their last 12. They also won the UConn Hockey Classic over break. Chase Grant and Zach Lehrke each had three points in the Providence series, while Stephon Williams registered his third shutout of the season on Saturday. Williams ranks fourth in the WCHA with a .928 save percentage.
5. Nebraska-Omaha (13-8-1, 9-4-1 WCHA) — Last week: 6
The Mavericks bounced back from a sweep at the hands of Quinnipiac by picking up a sweep of their own against Colorado College. Josh Archibald recorded a hat trick on Friday and scored another goal on Saturday, while Ryan Walters had five points in the series. Walters is now three clear of the national field with 33 points on the season. Backup goalie Anthony Stolarz left school for the OHL on Monday.
6. St. Cloud State (12-10-0, 9-5-0 WCHA) — Last week: 3
The Huskies drop three spots after getting swept at home by Northern Michigan. Rasmus Reijola got his first career start on Friday, and it didn’t go so well — he gave up six goals on 26 shots. With the two losses, St. Cloud dropped to under .500 since Nov. 3 (7-8-0). The Huskies are just one for their last 18 on the power play.
7. Wisconsin (6-7-5, 4-5-5 WCHA) — Last week: 9
The Badgers extended their unbeaten streak to eight games by sweeping Alaska-Anchorage over the weekend. Mark Zengerle, Tyler Barnes and Michael Mersch all had two-point games on Friday, while Derek Lee scored the lone goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win. Joel Rumpel stopped 12 shots on Saturday to pick up his second shutout of the season.
8. Minnesota-Duluth (7-10-3, 5-6-3 WCHA) — Last week: 8
The Bulldogs didn’t play over the weekend, so they stay at eight. The weekend before, they had a tough go of it at the Florida College Classic, as they lost to Maine and Ferris State.
9. Michigan Tech (6-10-3, 3-8-3 WCHA) — Last week: 10
The Huskies also had the weekend off, but they move up one spot as Colorado College tumbles right on by. Over break, Tech won its first Great Lakes Invitational in 32 years, and it did it in dominant fashion, beating Michigan and Western Michigan by identical 4-0 scores. Pheonix Copley stopped all 70 shots he faced in the tournament.
10. Colorado College (8-12-2, 5-8-1 WCHA) — Last week: 7
The Tigers plummet three spots after getting swept by UNO. They’ve now lost four straight and have a paltry 1-9-2 record since Nov. 16. They surrendered 11 goals on the weekend and continue to be terrible defensively. Their 3.73 goals against per game place them last in the WCHA and 55th in the country.
11. Bemidji State (5-11-4, 4-7-3 WCHA) — Last week: 11
The Beavers lost 6-0 to Western Michigan on Friday before salvaging a 2-2 tie on Saturday. After letting in six goals on Friday, Andrew Walsh came back and stopped 33 of 35 shots on Saturday.
12. Alaska-Anchorage (3-11-4, 1-10-3 WCHA) — Last week: 12
The Seawolves got swept by Wisconsin and have now lost six straight. They’re 1-10-3 since Oct. 26, and they rank last in the league in offense, 10th in defense and 11th in special teams net.