Monday, February 6, 2012

2011-2012 WCHA Power Rankings & Tiers: Down the Stretch

With just four weekends remaining in the WCHA's regular season, here's another look at the league's Power Rankings.

WCHA Standings:

1. Minnesota - 15-5-0 (19-9-1 Overall), 30 Points
2. Minnesota-Duluth - 12-5-3 (18-6-4 Overall), 27 Points
3. Colorado College - 12-7-1 (15-9-2 Overall), 25 Points
4. Denver - 10-6-4 (15-9-4 Overall), 24 Points
5. North Dakota - 11-9-0 (15-10-2 Overall), 22 Points
5. Nebraska-Omaha - 9-7-4 (12-11-5 Overall), 22 Points
5. Michigan Tech - 10-8-2 (13-13-2 Overall), 22 Points
8. St. Cloud State - 9-10-3 (12-14-4 Overall), 21 Points
9. Bemidji State - 7-10-3 (13-12-3 Overall), 17 Points
10. Wisconsin - 7-13-2 (12-14-2 Overall), 16 Points
11. Minnesota State - 6-15-1 (10-19-1 Overall), 13 Points
12. Alaska-Anchorage - 4-17-1 (7-17-2 Overall), 9 Points

Power Rankings:

1. Minnesota (UP 1)
Last Ranking: #2
Recent Results: Split vs. (3) CC, Sweep in Home-and-Home vs. (9) SCSU
19-9-1 Overall, 15-5-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ (4) Denver

With the Bulldogs spinning their wheels, Minnesota has taken over atop the WCHA Power Rankings. The Gophers are winning on the heels of their stout team defense, which has stiffened of late. Minnesota has averaged 1.67 goals against in its past six contests. However, they're only scoring an average of 2.5 goals per game in those six tilts, so they'll need to start finding some more consistent offense if they are going to be a contender in the postseason.

2. Minnesota-Duluth (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #1
Recent Results: Loss & Tie vs. (6) Michigan Tech, Split @ (12) Alaska-Anchorage
18-6-4 Overall, 12-5-3 WCHA
Next Week: vs (5) North Dakota

As mentioned above, UMD has had its share of tough games over the past few weekends. The Bulldogs went up 4-0 in the first period of Friday's game against Michigan Tech, before giving up nine unanswered goals on the weekend (four Friday, five Saturday) to come away with only one point. Then they traveled up to Anchorage and came away with only two points against a down Seawolves team. If UMD is going to win the league now, they'll need to do so with the "cake" of their schedule behind them: red-hot North Dakota comes to town this weekend, followed by an away series at Minnesota State, home versus Colorado College and rounding out the season in St. Cloud.

3. Colorado College (No Change)
Last Ranking: #3
Recent Results: Split vs. (1) Minnesota, Win & Tie vs. (4) Denver
15-9-2 Overall, 12-7-1 WCHA
Next Week: @ (8) Bemidji State

The Tigers survived the last two weekends in the meat grinder fairly well. CC took two valuable points at Mariucci Arena against Minnesota, and then took three of four from last weekend's rivalry series against Denver. Colorado College has all but locked up home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

4. Denver (UP 1)
Last Ranking: #5
Recent Results: Sweep @ (12) Alaska-Anchorage, Loss & Tie vs. (3) Colorado College
15-9-4 Overall, 10-6-4 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (1) Minnesota

The Pioneers swept the Seawolves in Anchorage before taking one point in a fiercely-contested series with Colorado College. However, the biggest reason the Pioneers are moving up the Power Rankings Board is the return of starting goaltender Sam Brittain. Brittain, last season's starter, suffered a torn ACL last offseason. He returned for the first time in the second Alaska-Anchorage game with a victory before allowing just one goal against Colorado College on Friday. With some stability between the pipes, Denver could be a team to be feared down the stretch.

5. North Dakota (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #4
Recent Results: Sweep vs. (11) Wisconsin, Idle
15-10-2 Overall, 11-9-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ (2) Minnesota-Duluth

After suffering a slight bump in the road on their perennial second-half surge (consecutive losses vs. Minnesota, @ St. Cloud), North Dakota has rattled off three wins in a row to jump back into the thick of the home-ice battle in the WCHA. Now tied for fifth in the league with Nebraska-Omaha and Michigan Tech, North Dakota faces a tough road test this weekend as they travel to Duluth.

6. Michigan Tech (UP 2)
Last Ranking: #8
Recent Results: Tie & Win @ (2) Minnesota-Duluth, Split @ (10) Minnesota State
13-13-2 Overall, 10-8-2 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (7) Nebraska-Omaha

Michigan Tech may have saved its season sometime between the first and second periods in Duluth. Down 4-0 after one, the Huskies rattled off the next four goals on Friday and the only five goals on Saturday to skate out of AmsOil Arena with a stunning three points against the Bulldogs. Tech followed it up by splitting on the road in Mankato. The Huskies face another important series this weekend, squaring off with Nebraska-Omaha in a showdown that could go a long way in determining home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

7. Nebraska-Omaha (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #6
Recent Results: Split @ (10) Minnesota State, Tie & Loss vs. (8) Bemidji State
12-11-5 Overall, 9-7-4 WCHA
Next Week: @ (6) Michigan Tech

Omaha moves out of the top half of the Power Rankings with disappointing weekends at Mankato and against Bemidji. The Mavericks have played in three overtime games in their past four, going 1-1-1 in those contests. UNO faces off against Michigan Tech this weekend in a clash between two teams tied for fifth in the conference standings.

8. Bemidji State (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #7
Recent Results: Split vs. (10) Minnesota State, Tie & Win @ (7) Nebraska-Omaha
13-12-3 Overall, 7-10-3 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (3) Colorado College

The Beavers only have 17 points in the WCHA thus far, good for ninth place in the conference and five points out of home ice. However, this Bemidji team is one that I see as "sneaky good" - they can beat good teams. They've posted quality wins this season, and could very well steal some points from Colorado College this weekend.

9. St. Cloud State (No Change)
Last Ranking: #9
Recent Results: Swept in Home-and-Home vs. (1) Minnesota, Sweep @ (11) Wisconsin
12-14-4 Overall, 9-10-3 WCHA
Next Week: Idle

The Huskies need a weekend off. They dressed only ten forwards in Friday's game against Minnesota before losing Travis Novak to a knee injury. In the three games since, Bob Motzko's crew has had only three offensive lines available. Despite that, St. Cloud went into Wisconsin and swept the home Badgers. However, their extreme injury issues keep them below Bemidji in the Power Rankings.

10. Minnesota State (UP 2)
Last Ranking: #12
Recent Results: Split @ (8) Bemidji State, Split vs. (6) Michigan Tech
10-19-1 Overall, 6-15-1 WCHA
Next Week: @ (12) Alaska-Anchorage

I'm going to say this right now: I was wrong about Minnesota State. I ranked them dead last in the conference before the season started, and it is true that the Mavericks have hovered near the bottom of the league table most of the year. However, the Maverick team that began the year 2-12-1 in the conference is a lot different than the team that has now gone 4-3-0 in their last seven league games. This team has a chance to pick up a couple more wins down the stretch, and could very well play the spoiler in their games against Minnesota-Duluth and at North Dakota to end the season.

11. Wisconsin (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #10
Recent Results: Swept @ (5) North Dakota, Swept vs. (9) St. Cloud State
12-14-2 Overall, 7-13-2 WCHA
Next Week: Idle

I'm not sure what has been ailing the Wisconsin Badgers this season. They have one of the most dynamic players in all of college hockey in Justin Schultz, yet they still have a hard time doing just about anything on the ice. The team has won one road game all season, and has dropped their last four contests. They get a week off before hosting Denver two weekends from now.

12. Alaska-Anchorage (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #11
Recent Results: Swept vs. (4) Denver, Split vs. (2) Minnesota-Duluth
7-17-2 Overall, 4-17-1 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (10) Minnesota State

Alaska-Anchorage has had a rough go of it this season. Their win over Minnesota-Duluth snapped an eight-game losing streak dating back to December 10th. The Seawolves host the Minnesota State Mavericks this weekend.

Team Tiers:

Last Week

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

This Week

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?