College Hockey Top 20 – Jan. 5, 2015

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Photo: The UMD Bulldogs have a lot to celebrate thus far this season (photo wprout)  

Here’s my spin with brief comments on this weeks top 20:

  1. Harvard University Crimson – (PWR #1; Last 10: 9-1; USCHO #3)  Can’t agree with USCHO on this one. This #1 ranked PWR squad has not lost a game since November 15 to Yale 2-1. Goaltending is strong and the offense is productive.That’s a dangerous combination.
  2. University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs – (#3 PWR; Last 10: 8-2; USCHO #7)  One of college hockey’s hottest teams since November 1. Big NCHC showdown with UND this weekend. I expect a split but at the “Ralph” that’s a good weekend.
  3. University of North Dakota – (#8 PWR; Last 10: 8-2; USCHO #1)   A solid team playing well with offensive stats close to UMD. This will be quite a battle with the Bulldogs this weekend.
  4. UMass-Lowell River Hawks – (#9 PWR; Last 10: 7-2-1; USCHO #6) No longer considered an overachiever in 2014-15, the River Hawks have not lost a conference game yet. They captured the Mariucci Classic with a nice win over Merrimack, another tough Hockey East squad.
  5. Boston University Terriers – (#7 PWR; Last 10: 5-3-2; USCHO #2) Sans Jack Eichel, this squad would be pegged lower. With Eichel in the lineup they can beat anyone in college hockey. But even with Eichel they lost to Harvard.
  6. Providence College Friars – (#10T PWR; Last 10: 9-1; USCHO #14)  Ranked way too low in the USCHO poll. Yes, they squeaked by a Colorado College squad last weekend but still won both games. This is an outstanding defensive team allowing less than 2 GPG. They play physical and in your face. One of my favorite college hockey teams this season.
  7. Minnesota State University-Mankato – (#2 PWR; Last 10: 8-1-1; USCHO #4) I’m torn on this team. On paper they are one of the top teams in the country. They have good senior leadership and a reasonable schedule the rest of the way. I’m still deferring judgment until after the North Star Cup where they should play Minnesota and UMD. Scoring 3.84 GPG will win you a lot of games.
  8. Miami University Red Hawks –  (#4 PWR; Last 10: 7-3; USCHO #5) The RedHawks can be inconsistent at times.  I felt the RPI games were a little closer than they should have been last weekend considering the turmoil in Troy. We’ll see how they survive SCSU and Denver in their next two series.
  9. Yale University Bulldogs – (#14 PWR; Last 10: 8-2; USCHO #19) Here’s another team playing some darn good hockey right now. The next two games against Northeastern and Harvard will prove whether they are a contender or pretender. With a current 1.62 goals against it’s hard not to take notice. Plus, they are the only team to upend #1 Harvard.
  10. Bowling Green Falcons – (#5 PWR; Last 10: 7-1-2; USCHO #11) I watched the Falcons dispatch Robert Morris last night 4-1. They controlled play and moved the puck well on the Atlantic leader. They are scoring over 3 GPG and have a smothering penalty kill at 93%. Their next two series vs Alaska and Michigan Tech will be telling.
  11. Denver University Pioneers – (#15 PWR; Last 10: 6-3-1; USCHO #10) In my opinion this is not a great team but troublesome for anyone to play. They have some vey high end players that’ll keep them competitive against anyone. Their road series at UNO this week is a big test.
  12. University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks – (#6 PWR; Last 10: 5-3-2; USCHO #13) This is another squad that can be inconsistent at times. The recent 6-2 loss to UNH at home is an example. Their dependence on youth down the stretch may be a concern. However, having 8 games at home the second half of the season  is a blessing. Much like UND, they can score in bunches.
  13. Boston College Eagles – (#19 PWR; Last 10: 7-2-1; USCHO: #16) This team has the potential to do some damage down the stretch run. Since losing 4 straight games to start November they’ve gone 7-2-1. With Demko in goal they have a solid foundation for success despite the team allowing 2.42 GPG.
  14. University of Vermont Catamounts – ( #12 PWR; Last 10: 7-3; USCHO #12) They’ve lost their momentum somewhat losing to top teams Providence and Yale. January is a key month for this team.
  15. Merrimack College Warriors – (#16 PWR; Last 10: 5-4-1; USCHO #18) – The Goaltending tandem of Tirronen and Delia are both putting up stingy numbers and an identical .932 SV %. The recent win vs Minnesota in the Mariucci Cup may have opened some eyes. Give credit to Tirronen who stopped 40 SOG. This team will go as far as its goaltending can carry them.
  16. Quinnipiac University Bobcats – (#17 PWR; Last 10: 6-4; USCHO: #15) You can no longer underestimate the ECAC after two consecutive national titles. This is not Union of 2013-14 but they do have the ability to be the Yale of 2012-13. When they play with energy they can compete with anyone in the country.
  17. University of Michigan Wolverines –  (#21 PWR; Last 10: 8-2; USCHO not ranked) Suddenly Michigan is back in the picture having only lost three times since November 1. A key series with Minnesota looms this weekend.
  18. Michigan Tech University Huskies – (#13 PWR; Last 10: 5-5; USCHO #8) The Huskies have been a .500 team since their 10-0-0 start to the season. They’ve started off 1-1 in January and have arch rival Northern Michigan in a home and home this weekend. It should be a dandy series.
  19. University of Minnesota Golden Gophers – (#10T PWR; Last 10: 4-5-1; USCHO #9)  There is simply no rationale for a #9 USCHO ranking based on their 3-5-1 performance since November 14. This is a talent laden team that struggled to defeat RIT in the Mariucci Classic ..on home ice. Statistically, the team numbers look good. However, it’s not reflected in the win column.
  20. Colgate University Red Raiders – (#18 PWR; Last 10: 5-4-1; USCHO: #17) Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, they’ve had some key injuries that have really deflated their season. Key losses to Yale, Boston University and Providence are an indication that they don’t have the depth to prevail against the top teams. Too bad. With a healthy roster they could be a top ten team.

Other notables: Alaska, Union, Robert Morris, Dartmouth, Penn State  

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