With St. Cloud off over the weekend, the race for the MacNaughton Cup got a little tighter. The top seven teams are all within six points of each other now. Things got a bit tighter in my power rankings as well, although not a whole lot changes in terms of positions.
1. Minnesota (20-6-4, 12-6-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
Minnesota split a pair of 3-2 games with Wisconsin, but neither of my next two teams played over the weekend, so the Gophers’ hold on the top spot is still pretty strong. They’re actually tied for fourth in the league, three points out of first, but they’re still second in the Pairwise. Erik Haula, Nick Bjugstad and Seth Ambroz each had two points in the series. The Gophers lost Sunday’s game at Soldier Field despite outshooting the Badgers 38-19.
2. St. Cloud State (18-11-1, 15-6-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Huskies had the weekend off, so they stay at two. They have a one-point lead over second-place UNO, and they also have two games in hand. St. Cloud is currently ninth in the Pairwise.
3. North Dakota (16-8-6, 11-5-6 WCHA) — Last week: 3
UND also had the weekend off, so they stay at three. They’re tied with Minnesota for fourth in the league, and they rank sixth in the Pairwise.
4. Minnesota State (20-9-3, 14-9-1 WCHA) — Last week: 4
The Mavericks extended their winning streak to four with a sweep of Michigan Tech, as they won 4-2 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday. Those two wins moved them up to third in the standings and seventh in the Pairwise. Matt Leitner, Dylan Margonari and Brett Knowles tallied three points apiece in the series. Stephon Williams stopped 57 of 60 shots in the series and now leads the league with a .930 save percentage in conference play.
5. Denver (15-9-5, 10-7-5 WCHA) — Last week: 5
Another team that had the weekend off, and therefore stays right where they were. The Pioneers are two points behind Wisconsin for the final home ice spot, but they have two games in hand. They’re currently 11th in the Pairwise.
6. Nebraska-Omaha (18-12-2, 14-8-2 WCHA) — Last week: 7
The Mavericks snapped a three-game losing by sweeping Anchorage. Matt White notched a goal and an assist in Friday’s 3-0 win, then contributed four assists to Saturday’s 6-5 overtime victory. Brent Gwidt had four points on the weekend, while Johnnie Searfoss and Hobey candidate Ryan Walters each had three. UNO gave up just 10 shots on Friday to help Dayn Belfour pick up his first career shutout.
7. Wisconsin (13-10-7, 10-7-7 WCHA) — Last week: 6
It feels a bit harsh to drop the Badgers down a spot after splitting with Minnesota, because that obviously isn’t a bad result. But UNO is in better position in both the league and the Pairwise. The Badgers are now sixth in the standings and 27th in the Pairwise. Tyler Barnes had a goal and an assist in Friday’s loss, while Brendan Woods had two assists in Sunday’s win at Soldier Field. Joel Rumpel made 76 saves in the series.
8. Colorado College (11-14-5, 8-10-4 WCHA) — Last week: 8
Our fourth and final bye. The Tigers are tied for eighth, seven points out of home ice.
9. Minnesota-Duluth (10-16-4, 8-12-4 WCHA) — Last week: 9
The Bulldogs mustered just one point against Bemidji, dropping them to 0-6-1 in their last seven. Alex Fons got his first career start on Friday, but it didn’t go too well, as he gave up four goals on 27 shots. Matt McNeely fared much better in Saturday’s 1-1 tie, as he stopped 26 of 27 shots.
10. Michigan Tech (10-16-4, 6-14-4 WCHA) — Last week: 10
The Huskies smoked Northern Michigan 8-2 last Tuesday, but then they got swept by Minnesota State over the weekend. Tanner Kero and Blake Pietila each had four points on Tuesday, while Alex Petan scored twice on Friday. Pheonix Copley stopped 18 of 19 shots on Tuesday, but then surrendered eight goals over the weekend.
11. Bemidji State (6-17-7, 5-13-6 WCHA) — Last week: 11
The Beavers finally snapped their 12-game winless skid by taking three of four points from UMD. Andrew Walsh carried them, as he saved 74 of the 77 shots he faced in the series. Brance Orban scored twice in Friday’s 4-2 win, while Jordan George and Aaron McLeod each had two assists in the series.
12. Alaska-Anchorage (4-19-7, 2-18-6 WCHA) — Last week: 12
The Seawolves got swept by UNO and clinched a 12th-place finish in the process. They held a late 5-4 lead on Saturday, but gave up the tying goal with 3:27 left in regulation and the winning goal with 32 seconds left in overtime. One positive was that they scored four power-play goals, which now accounts for 25 percent of their season total.