Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011-2012 WCHA Power Rankings & Tiers: Week 6

Another week, another set of power rankings in the WCHA - INCLUDING a few big moves in the top six. Read more to find out:

WCHA Results, Week 6:

Alaska-Anchorage - Loss, Loss @ Minnesota-Duluth
Bemidji State - Tie, Loss vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Colorado College - Idle, Loss @ Denver
Denver - Idle, Win vs. Colorado College
Michigan Tech - Idle
Minnesota - Loss, Win @ Wisconsin
Minnesota-Duluth - Win, Win vs. Alaska-Anchorage
Minnesota State - Win, Loss vs. St. Cloud State
Nebraska Omaha - Tie, Win vs. Bemidji State
North Dakota - Idle
St. Cloud State - Loss, Win @ Minnesota State
Wisconsin - Win, Loss vs. Minnesota

WCHA Standings:

1. Minnesota - 7-1-0 (10-2-0 Overall), 14 Points
2. Minnesota-Duluth - 5-2-1 (7-3-2 Overall), 11 Points
2. Nebraska-Omaha - 5-2-1 (6-5-1 Overall), 11 Points
4. Michigan Tech - 4-3-1 (6-3-1 Overall), 9 Points
4. Wisconsin - 4-5-1 (5-6-1 Overall), 9 Points
6. Denver - 3-2-2 (4-3-2 Overall), 8 Points
7. St. Cloud State - 3-2-1 (5-5-2 Overall), 7 Points
8. Colorado College - 3-2-0 (5-2-0 Overall), 6 Points
9. Bemidji State - 2-5-1 (4-7-1 Overall), 5 Points
10. Minnesota State - 2-4-0 (3-7-0 Overall), 4 Points
11. North Dakota - 1-5-0 (3-6-1 Overall), 2 Points
12. Alaska-Anchorage - 0-6-0 (3-6-1 Overall), 0 Points

Power Rankings:

1. Minnesota (UP 1)
Last Ranking: #2
Last Week: Road Split vs. (6) Wisconsin
10-2-0 Overall, 7-1-0 WCHA
Next Week: Home-and-Home series vs. (8) St. Cloud State

Minnesota lost on Friday at Wisconsin and showed that they're a young team that can fall prey to inconsistent effort sometimes. Then Saturday they showed why they're the number one team in the nation, throttling Wisconsin all game long in a 4-1 victory. Minnesota's move has more to do with CC's apparent inconsistency in goal than anything, but the Gophers are putting together quite a run thus far in the WCHA.

2. Colorado College (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #1
Last Week: Road Loss vs. (4) Denver
5-2-0 Overall, 3-2-0 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (6) Wisconsin

I struggled with moving CC down to number two in the rankings - I've thought all year long that they were the team to beat in the WCHA. However, surprisingly inconsistent goaltending from Joe Howe has me questioning whether the Tigers have what it takes to make a deep postseason run. Nobody questions their firepower, but it's defense and goaltending that win championships.

3. Minnesota-Duluth (UP 1)
Last Ranking: #4
Last Week: Home Sweep vs. (10) Alaska-Anchorage
7-3-2 Overall, 5-2-1 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (12) Minnesota State

Duluth had another good weekend at home, sweeping the cellar-dwelling Seawolves. I was down on this team at the beginning of the year but their play thus far has made me a believer. Their only blemishes thus far are a loss to a good Notre Dame team at the beginning of the season and a home sweep at the hands of the Gophers. The Bulldogs are quickly showing that they belong in the conversation of best teams in the WCHA. Minnesota-Duluth has a good chance to keep the momentum rolling next weekend as they host the Minnesota State Mavericks.

4. Denver University (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #3
Last Week: Home Win on Saturday vs. (2) Colorado College
4-3-2 Overall, 3-2-2 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (5) Nebraska-Omaha

Denver moves down mostly on the surprising play of the Duluth Bulldogs. They are still a solid team and a near-lock for home-ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. A big win against arch-rival Colorado College was their only action this last weekend, but the Pioneers face a stiff challenge against number five ranked Nebraska-Omaha this Friday and Saturday.

5. Nebraska-Omaha (No Change)
Last Ranking: #5
Last Week: Home Tie & Win vs. (11) Bemidji State
6-5-1 Overall, 5-2-1 WCHA
Next Week: @ (4) Denver

The Mavericks took three points at home against a team that handed them six losses last season, the Bemidji State Beavers. Their goaltending situation is a mess, but their forward group is one of the best in the league.

6. Wisconsin (UP 1)
Last Ranking: #7
Last Week: Home Split vs. (1) Minnesota
5-6-1 Overall, 4-5-1 WCHA
Next Week: @ (2) Colorado College

Wisconsin moves up into the top six in the power rankings on the back of a home split versus number one Minnesota. If the Badgers can stay there will likely depend on the result of their series this upcoming weekend at Colorado College. If Wisconsin can steal a game out in Colorado Springs, it may signal that they're for real. Keep an eye on the goalie situation in Madison - Joel Rumpel played back-to-back games for the first time in his career against the Gophers and had two pretty solid games. It will be interesting to see how he holds up against the high-flying Tigers.

7. North Dakota (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #6
Last Week: Idle
3-6-1 Overall, 1-5-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ (11) Bemidji State

North Dakota moves out of the top six in this week's edition of the power rankings. I still think that they're a better team than Wisconsin, but the Sioux have an awfully tough hill to climb to get back to relevance in the WCHA. Going on the road to face Bemidji State isn't a cakewalk, either - a nice rivalry has developed between the two teams, and Bemidji always plays hard against the Sioux.

8. St. Cloud State (No Change)
Last Ranking: #8
Last Week: Road Split @ (12) Minnesota State
5-5-2 Overall, 3-2-1 WCHA
Next Week: Home-and-Home vs. (1) Minnesota

St. Cloud is an interesting team - just when you think they're about ready to take the next step, they go down to Mankato and lose to the hard-luck Mavericks. A road split is not the end of the world, but there are still questions surrounding this Huskies team. Goalkeeper Mike Lee is out for the season with a lower-body injury, so we'll see how backup Ryan Faragher fares between the pipes. The injury imp has hit St. Cloud hard already with senior forward Drew LeBlanc out for the season with a broken leg - how St. Cloud responds will be interesting against number one Minnesota this upcoming weekend.

9. Michigan Tech (No Change)
Last Ranking: #9
Last Week: Idle
6-3-1 Overall, 4-3-1 WCHA
Next Week: @ (10) Alaska-Anchorage

The Huskies from Houghton travel to Alaska-Anchorage to take on the Seawolves in this weekend's action. The trip is always tough, and as good as Tech has been thus far this year I expect Alaska-Anchorage to take at least two points.

10. Alaska-Anchorage (No Change)
Last Ranking: #10
Last Week: Swept on the Road @ Minnesota Duluth
3-6-1 Overall, 0-6-0 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (9) Michigan Tech

A tough start in the league for the Seawolves this year, as they drop to 0-6-0 in their first six league games. However, that figure really could read 2-6-0 since the Seawolves have (technically) non-conference wins against Nebraska-Omaha and St. Cloud State in beginning-of-the-season tournaments. I think this Anchorage team is better than their record, but they need to start scoring some goals in-conference - thus far, the Seawolves have scored just four goals in six WCHA games played.

11. Bemidji State (No Change)
Last Ranking: #11
Last Week: Tie, Loss vs. (5) Nebraska-Omaha
4-7-1 Overall, 2-5-1 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (7) North Dakota

Bemidji has a big series this upcoming weekend versus the rival Fighting Sioux. North Dakota is down this season, but they're a better team than their record. I'd say a weekend split is probably to be expected, with anything more for either side as gravy.

12. Minnesota State - Mankato (No Change)
Last Ranking: #12
Last Week: Split vs. (8) St. Cloud State
3-7-0 Overall, 2-4-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ (3) Minnesota-Duluth

Another WCHA victory against St. Cloud has the Mavericks staunchly out of the cellar in the league table. In the power rankings, they still have a lot of work to do to move past any teams, but they have shown that they're not in as big of trouble as I originally predicted.

Team Tiers:

Last Week

Tier 1 - Colorado College, Minnesota
Tier 2 - Denver
Tier 3 - Minnesota-Duluth
Tier 4 - Nebraska-Omaha
Tier 5 - North Dakota, Wisconsin, St. Cloud State
Tier 6 - Michigan Tech, Alaska-Anchorage
Tier 7 - Bemidji State
Tier 8 - Minnesota State

This Week

Tier 1 - Minnesota, Colorado College
Tier 2 - Minnesota-Duluth, Denver
Tier 3 - No Teams
Tier 4 - Nebraska-Omaha
Tier 5 - Wisconsin, North Dakota, St. Cloud State
Tier 6 - Michigan Tech
Tier 7 - Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State
Tier 8 - Minnesota State

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