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Evan Marinofsky | | October 18, 2021

College hockey rankings: Michigan claims No. 1 spot, BC falls among Power 10 movement

2022 NCAA hockey bracket predictions, two weeks into the season

This was a weekend in men's college hockey we'll be talking about for a long time, especially come the spring. 

All top five teams were served legitimate tests. Then-No. 1 Minnesota State, No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Minnesota Duluth and No. 10 Providence converged on Duluth, Minnesota to play in the Ice Breaker Tournament. Michigan came away with the two wins needed to win the whole thing. At the same time, No. 2 St. Cloud State played a home-and-home with No. 4 Minnesota, resulting in a split and some of the tightest games imaginable. 

There were some really interesting results further down the top 10 that would normally get teams kicked off this list. Due to most teams outside of my top 10 not doing quite enough to get in, this week sees a lot of movement within my Power 10. 

Let's get into it. 

1. Michigan (4-0) | Previous: 3

Out of all the teams in my top 10, this weekend was the biggest and most important for Michigan. This was its first large test of the season — dates with Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State — and the Wolverines put up a good enough result to become the new No. 1 team in the country. 

Their 5-1 win over the Bulldogs Friday night was impressive. Matty Beniers registered two goals and linemate Kent Johnson posted two assists. It was a convincing win over a good opponent in their arena. But it was Saturday night that saw Michigan play the No. 1 team in the country and edge out a 3-2 win, which was good enough for the Wolverines to knock the Mavericks out of the top spot. 

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Another player to note from this weekend: sophomore goalie Erik Portillo. He stopped 28-of-29 against Minnesota Duluth and 27-of-29 against Minnesota State. If he plays like that consistently, it's hard to imagine Michigan giving up this spot in the rankings. 

2. St. Cloud State (4-2) | Previous: 2

It was great to see the Huskies and Golden Gophers do battle twice this weekend, but both games were so close that it was hard to justify moving either team. St. Cloud State took Night 1, winning 2-1. Minnesota took the sequel when forward Sammy Walker potted the OT winner, giving the Gophers a 4-3 victory. 

Because the Huskies won the first game and only lost in OT the second, there's no real reason to move them out of this No. 2 spot. 

3. Minnesota State (4-2) | Previous: 1 

No one has had a tougher early-season schedule than the Mavericks. They opened their season by sweeping then-No. 1 UMass. Then they split a weekend series with No. 2 St. Cloud State. This weekend saw them beat No. 10 Providence handily and then fall just short against Michigan, 3-2.

The silver lining in that Michigan loss was they outshot the Wolverines 29-19. For the first half of the game, the stingy Mavericks defense prevented the Wolverines from easy offensive zone entries and established o-zone time.

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Because of how battle-tested this team already is, plus the depth and experience all throughout the roster, the Mavericks will be vying to grab that No. 1 spot back all season long. Don't be surprised when it happens. 

Minnesota took on St. Cloud State this past weekend.

4. Minnesota (3-1) | Previous: 4

The same reason why St. Cloud State stayed at No. 2 is why Minnesota stays at No. 4. 

Minnesota did show a lot Saturday night. To get an overtime win in St. Cloud after leading for most of the game is a big deal. It's something that'll positively follow this Gophers team for the rest of the season. Forward Sammy Walker also stepped up huge in that one, scoring the third goal and the OT winner. When Walker is rolling, so too are the Gophers. 

Another interesting tidbit from this series was Minnesota narrowly outshot St. Cloud State in both games, which is another reason why even after losing in regulation Friday night, this team still maintains its spot in my Power 10. 

5. Quinnipiac (2-0-1) | Previous: 6 

Now we get into the area of the top 10 where it's not so much about the big wins, but the big losses. 

The Bobcats only played once this weekend, securing a 2-0 win over Vermont. Is that solely enough to catapult them from No. 6 in my Power 10 last week to now No. 5? No, not at all. It's more about the team Quinnipiac is — deep, complete and experienced. It's also about the shortcomings of teams following them in this Power 10. 

UMass swept AIC this past weekend.

6. UMass (2-2) | Previous: 9 

Like Quinnipiac, the Minutemen move up a bit in this week's Power 10 because they simply took care of business when other teams didn't. 

The Minutemen got the exact effort they needed this weekend, sweeping a good AIC team with wins of 5-1 and 4-2. After the opening weekend debacle against Minnesota State, UMass clearly used its time off to correct a lot. It looked like a much better, complete team this weekend, which is the team we should become accustomed to seeing when UMass takes the ice. 

Next up is an exhibition game against Dartmouth this Saturday before the Minutemen dive into Hockey East play Oct. 29. 

7. Minnesota Duluth (3-1) | Previous: 5

The Bulldogs played host to the Ice Breaker Tournament this past weekend and fell to Michigan, 5-1, in their first game, which is the main reason they fall in this Power 10. To their credit, they did limit the Wolverines early in the night but were outmatched for the final 40 minutes. 

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The positive for Minnesota Duluth was the 3-2 win over Providence Saturday night. The highlight came when forward Quinn Olson toe-dragged a defender and then went through his legs for a dish to Dominic James, who put it right past PC goalie Jaxson Stauber. 

Next up is a home-and-home with Minnesota this weekend. That will give the Bulldogs a real chance to climb back into the top five. 

8. North Dakota (3-1) | Previous: 8

The Fighting Hawks split a weekend series with No. 20 Bemidji State, winning the first game, 4-3, and losing the second in overtime, 4-3. The bright spot was of the seven goals scored by North Dakota, they came from six different players. Two came from junior forward Ashton Calder. For a team in search of scoring after losing so much of it over the offseason, that's a very good thing. 

Up next for the Fighting Hawks is a huge series at Quinnipiac this weekend. Those two games will have big implications for the back half of the Power 10. 

9. Boston College (2-1-1) | Previous: 7 

When a highly-ranked team loses by four goals to an unranked squad, they fall in the rankings and that's exactly what happened here. 

After a solid 5-3 win over No. 18 Northeastern Friday night, the Eagles failed to show up against Bentley on Saturday, falling 6-2. Bentley entered the third period up 1-0, and then rattled off five goals, never giving BC a chance to catch up. All the credit in the world to the Falcons here, but BC shouldn't be losing that game, let alone by that much.

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Next up is a game against Colorado College and then No. 11 Denver. Both will be legitimate tests for the Eagles. 

Denver swept Air Force this past weekend.

10. Denver (4-0) | Previous: NR 

Denver is the only new team in this week's Power 10 after Providence lost both games in the Ice Breaker Tournament. The Pioneers trounced Air Force by scores of 4-1 and 8-0 this past weekend. They've slowly moved their way up the rankings this season, with a pair of wins against Arizona State coming the previous weekend. Denver outscored the Sun Devils 12-6 in those two games. 

But the Pioneers' big test will come the next few weekends. First, they have a date with Providence and then Boston College this Friday and Saturday night. Then they'll be at North Dakota for a weekend set Nov. 5 and 6. If they can come out of those four games with a winning record, they'll have no issue staying in the top 10. 

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