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Evan Marinofsky | | December 6, 2021

College hockey rankings: Minnesota State, Quinnipiac rise in latest Power 10 after wild weekend of upsets

Behind Easton Brodzinski's inspiring return to St. Cloud State hockey, after breaking his leg

Well, that was quite the weekend in DI men's college hockey. 

The trend of No. 1 teams losing continued. To add onto that, many teams throughout the top 10 lost games this weekend as well, causing there to be yet another reshuffling in my Power 10. This seems like it's becoming a weekly occurrence. 

Let's dive right into this week's rankings. 

1.) Minnesota State (14-4-0) | Prev: 2 

Due to the recent trend of teams losing the weekend after being ranked No. 1, I'm not sure the Mavericks want to see themselves here. Nevertheless, someone has to hold this spot and Minnesota State certainly deserves it (sorry, guys). 

The Mavericks earned a sweep of Michigan Tech this weekend, edging out the Huskies, 2-1, in overtime on Friday and then 3-1 Saturday.

Junior forward Nathan Smith continued his dominant season, potting the OT-winner Friday and an empty-netter on Saturday. He leads the Mavericks in goals with 11 and points with 26. Those 26 points are also tied for second in the nation. 

Nathan Smith is an early Hobey Baker candidate.

It's early to start Hobey Baker talk, but right now, Smith is a candidate. With the way both team and player are trending, it would surprise no one to see Smith in the conversation come April. 

2.) Quinnipiac (12-1-3) | Prev: 5 

Here's a trivia question for you, the reader, that I'm about to answer. But I want you to take a guess at it first: What's the big trend between the top two teams this week? 

Outstanding defense. 

As high-flying offenses snag headlines and permeate highlight reels, both Quinnipiac and Minnesota State have neutralized opponents via strong defense so far this season, and since this is the Bobcats' spot in my Power 10, let's focus on them. 

RANKINGS: Take a look at the latest USCHO poll

Quinnipiac has allowed the least amount of goals in the nation this season (19). It also has allowed the lowest amount of shots per game at 17.06. Freshman goalie Yaniv Perets leads the nation in goals against average (0.86) and is tied for second in save percentage (.946). 

And for those who enjoy some advanced stats, guess which two teams are tied at No. 1 in the nation for Corsi For percentage: Minnesota State and Quinnipiac. Both sit at 61.3 percent. 

So there was Quinnipiac's elite defense on full display this past weekend, first shutting out RPI, 2-0, and then Union, 4-0. The Bobcats haven't allowed a goal in three games. 

Next up is a weekend set at LIU. 

3.) Michigan (13-5-0) | Prev: 1 

The Wolverines had a huge set with Big Ten rival Minnesota this past weekend and finished with a split. 

After being tripped up in Game 1 and losing 5-1, Michigan bounced back to beat Minnesota, 6-2, in the second game. Fifth year forward Michael Pastujov netted a hat trick in the win. 

This was a big series for Michigan. The Golden Gophers are its biggest threat in the Big Ten (for now), and what took place was the Wolverines were outmatched in Game 1 and came back harder at Minnesota in Game 2. These two games showed more about Minnesota, which we'll get to later. 

The Wolverines head to Ohio State this weekend for a set with the Buckeyes. 

4.) St. Cloud State (10-6-0) | Prev: 4 

How about that win on Friday night? 

The Huskies trounced North Dakota, 8-1, at home to kick off a huge weekend set with the Fighting Hawks. Fifth year forward Easton Brodzinski netted a hat trick and senior defenseman Nick Perbix posted four assists. It was exactly the kind of win St. Cloud State needed after being swept by Western Michigan two weekends ago. 

BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER: Inside Easton Brodzinski's journey back from a broken leg 

Game 2 didn't go as great for the Huskies, as they lost, 5-3. Still, that huge victory on Friday night outweighed the loss the next night. 

The most impressive moment of the weekend? Junior forward Jami Krannila pulling off the Michigan. Oh my. 

St. Cloud State has a few weeks off before taking on Bemidji State Dec. 31. 

5.) Minnesota Duluth (10-5-1) | Prev: 3 

The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in last week's USCHO poll and like all No. 1 teams before, they lost. The carousel that is that No. 1 spot continues. 

Minnesota Duluth was stunned by Northern Michigan this past weekend, losing Friday night, 5-4, and Saturday, 5-2. 

With star goalie Ryan Fanti on the shelf in COVID protocols, redshirt fifth year goalie Ben Patt stepped in for both games. Friday was his first career start. Saturday was his second. He performed admirably, stopping 30 of 34 shots in Game 1 and 26 of 30 in Game 2. Through Patt's time at UMD, he's mainly been the No. 3 goalie. So, getting the call for two starts was an extremely cool moment for the longtime backup. 

Even with Fanti set to come back, things don't get any easier for Minnesota Duluth. Up next is Denver and then after a small break, the Bulldogs play Minnesota State and St. Cloud State in consecutive weekends. 

6.) Western Michigan (12-4-0) | Prev: 6 

The Broncos continued to roll this past weekend, earning two solid wins over Miami (OH). They took Game 1, 6-3, and Game 2, 5-3. Western Michigan outshot the RedHawks, 86-52, on the weekend. 

Here's a fun fact about Western Michigan: With Minnesota Duluth's loss, the Broncos are now No. 1 in USCHO's pairwise ranking

Up next is another NCHC opponent: Omaha. 

7.) Cornell (9-1-1) | Prev: 8 

Cornell earned a 4-1 win over St. Lawrence on Friday. Junior forward Matt Stienburg had a hat trick. Stienburg leads the country in points per game with 1.63 and leads the Big Red in points with 18. 

The Big Red tied Clarkson, 4-4, Saturday night and then later lost in a shootout. Still, losing in a shootout to the Golden Knights isn't a big enough reason to drop Cornell. With all the series splits throughout the top 10, Cornell finds itself moving up one spot this week. The Big Red are for real. 

They get a nice break, as they don't play again until Jan. 1 when they travel to Arizona State to ring in 2022. 

8.) North Dakota (11-6-0) | Prev: 7 

The Fighting Hawks suffered a rough, 8-1 defeat at the hands of St. Cloud State Friday night. As bad as that was, the response the next night was enough of a positive to keep North Dakota in this edition of the Power 10. 

That win was especially big for senior goalie Zach Driscoll. After allowing three goals on five shots in roughly 11 minutes of work in the 8-1 loss, he bounced back Saturday, stopping 30 of 33 shots. 

A LOOK BACK: Here are the 7 biggest takeaways from November in men's college hockey 

North Dakota looks to get back on track against Colorado College this upcoming weekend. 

9.) Denver (10-4-0) | Prev: NR 

Welcome back to the Power 10, Denver. 

The Pioneers took care of business this past weekend, having no issue with Arizona State. Friday night saw Denver win, 6-2, and Saturday saw a 7-1 victory. Senior forward Brett Stapley registered a hat trick in the Game 1 win. 

An interesting thing about Denver is its tied for third place in USCHO's pairwise ranking. It's been a fringe top-10 team so far this season and it's difficult to separate from the pack when playing in the NCHC. But the Pioneers have done a solid job at staying in the conversation. 

Denver will have a big chance to stay in the conversation when it takes on Minnesota Duluth this weekend. 

10.) Minnesota (10-8-0) | Prev: 10 

This spot could've gone to other teams. It was difficult to leave out UMass and Omaha. But the Golden Gophers' 5-1 win over Michigan on Friday night was significant. 

Minnesota split its series with Michigan this past weekend.

In a season where Minnesota has been rather inconsistent, it put up five goals on arguably the best team in the nation and held the most high-flying offense in the country to one goal. Star goalie Jack LaFontaine was great, stopping 30 of 31 shots. 

What kept the Gophers from rising was the performance on Night 2, when they lost, 6-2, and LaFontaine was pulled. The inconsistency showed back up, but Night 1 keeps them in this spot. 

Minnesota has almost a full month off before its next game, which is against the U.S. National U18 team.

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