Well, we’ve arrived at winter break. The top two teams in these rankings are exactly who we thought they’d be before the season, but there have been plenty of surprises after that. Minnesota State, under first-year head coach Mike Hastings, has overcome a slow start to emerge as a top-five team. Elsewhere, Denver has dropped from one of the top teams in the country to the middle of the pack, and Wisconsin hasn’t even come close to meeting preseason expectations that, in hindsight, were probably too high in the first place.
1. Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) — Last week: 1
The Gophers had the weekend off, so they stay at the top heading into break. North Dakota certainly closed the gap a bit, though. Minnesota leads the league in both defense (2.00 goals allowed per game) and special teams net (+9), and ranks fourth in offense (3.35 goals per game). Erik Haula enters the break riding a 12-game point streak, and he currently ranks seventh in the league with 22 points on the season.
2. North Dakota (10-5-3, 7-2-3 WCHA) — Last week: 2
North Dakota pulls right up to Minnesota’s bumper after outscoring Michigan Tech 10-2 in a weekend sweep. Corban Knight and Danny Kristo led the way with six points apiece in the series. Knight now has a 13-game point streak, and his 23 points on the season are tied for fourth in the conference. Clarke Saunders stopped 65 of 67 shots and is now fourth in the league with a .925 save percentage.