WCHA Power Rankings: 2/4/13

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

Our top team was idle this weekend, but there’s plenty of movement in the rest of the top six. The No. 2 team pulled a little closer to the top, and teams three through six are all in a different position than last week. The bottom half continues to be much less chaotic, as teams seven through 12 all stand pat for the second week in a row.

1. Minnesota (18-4-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers had the weekend off, so they stay at the top. They remain second in the Pairwise, but St. Cloud has opened up a five-point lead on them in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. Minnesota does have two games in hand, though.

2. St. Cloud State (17-10-1, 14-5-1 WCHA) — Last week: 2
The Huskies outscored Bemidji 8-1 in a weekend sweep, extending their unbeaten streak to six games. They also now have a three-point lead over second-place UNO, and they’ve climbed to eighth in the Pairwise. Ryan Faragher saved 24 shots on Friday to earn his second shutout of the season, then stopped 21 of 22 on Saturday. Drew LeBlanc notched a goal and two assists in the series, while Jonny Brodzinski scored a pair of goals. LeBlanc leads the WCHA with 30 assists and ranks second in points with 38.

3. North Dakota (14-8-6, 9-5-6 WCHA) — Last week: 4
UND got back on track by taking three of four points from Wisconsin. They tied 1-1 on Friday before claiming a 4-1 victory on Saturday. Zane Gothberg got both starts and saved 50 of 52 shots on the weekend. Danny Kristo scored UND’s lone goal on Friday, while Michael Parks scored twice on Saturday. Special teams were big, as UND went 3-for-12 on the power play and 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. There were a whopping 205 penalty minutes in the series, most of them on matching penalties and misconducts.

4. Denver (15-8-4, 10-6-4 WCHA) — Last week: 6
After getting swept by St. Cloud two weekends ago, the Pioneers regrouped during their bye week and bounced back with a sweep of UMD over the weekend. Juho Olkinuora stopped 26 shots to earn his second shutout in Friday’s 3-0 win, then the Pioneers scored three times in a 1:31 span late in the third to earn a 4-3 come-from-behind victory on Saturday. Shawn Ostrow scored two goals on Saturday and Nolan Zajac scored two on the weekend, including Saturday’s winner.

5. Nebraska-Omaha (16-10-2, 12-6-2 WCHA) — Last week: 3
The Mavericks drop two spots after splitting with Michigan Tech. Dominic Zombo and Andrej Sustr each had two points in Friday’s 4-3 win, but then they suffered a 2-1 overtime loss on Saturday. They’re still in second place in the league, but Saturday’s loss dropped them to 21st in the Pairwise. Ryan Walters’ goal on Friday made him the first player in the country to reach 40 points this season.

6. Minnesota State (16-9-3, 10-9-1 WCHA) — Last week: 5
The Mavericks had the weekend off, but they drop one spot because Denver’s sweep was enough to jump ahead of them.

7. Wisconsin (11-9-6, 8-6-6 WCHA) — Last week: 7
The Badgers had pulled within striking distance of the top six, but a one-point series against UND keeps them in seventh for now. Landon Peterson stopped 21 of 22 shots on Friday, but then surrendered four goals for the first time all season on Saturday. In fact, that was the first time the Badgers as a team had allowed four goals in a game since Nov. 24. Mark Zengerle and Joseph LaBate each had two points in the series.

8. Minnesota-Duluth (10-13-3, 8-9-3 WCHA) — Last week: 8
The Bulldogs missed a chance to gain some ground on the teams ahead of them when they choked away a 3-1 third-period lead against Denver on Saturday. They’ve now followed a three-game winning streak with a three-game losing streak. Their offense continues to struggle, as they’ve now scored two goals or fewer in seven of their last 11 games.

9. Colorado College (10-14-4, 7-10-3 WCHA) — Last week: 9
The Tigers picked up a pair of ties against Anchorage over the weekend — 2-2 on Friday, 3-3 on Saturday. They did gain a little bit of ground on the teams ahead of them, but they probably should’ve gained more given how bad the Seawolves have been. On the plus side, CC’s defense had a second straight decent weekend. On the minus side, the Tigers mustered just 38 shots on goal in the series.

10. Michigan Tech (8-13-4, 5-11-4 WCHA) — Last week: 10
After losing on Friday, the Huskies picked up a big 2-1 overtime win against Omaha on Saturday. Senior Mikael Lickteig was the unlikely hero on Saturday, as his overtime winner was just the second goal of his career. After surrendering four goals on 28 shots on Friday, Pheonix Copley stopped 36 of 37 shots on Saturday.

11. Bemidji State (5-16-5, 4-12-4 WCHA) — Last week: 11
There’s not really much to be said about the Beavers at this point. They got swept for the second straight weekend and are now 0-8-2 in the second half. They’ve scored two goals or fewer in eight of those 10 games.

12. Alaska-Anchorage (3-16-7, 1-15-6 WCHA) — Last week: 12
Two ties are better than two losses, so I guess the Seawolves have to be at least somewhat happy with this weekend. On both nights, they scored the game-tying goal in the final four minutes of regulation. Still, they couldn’t pull out a win, meaning their winless streak extends to a mind-numbing 14 games.

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