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Evan Marinofsky | NCAA.com | December 13, 2021

Men's college hockey rankings: Things tighten up in latest Power 10 as holiday break arrives

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This wasn't the same weekend of men's DI college hockey we've become accustomed to. 

No. 17 Ohio State taking down No. 3 Michigan, 6-1, Saturday night was somewhat big, but the Wolverines won the night before and the Buckeyes are a very good team in a very good conference. That doesn't register as high as past upsets on the Richter scale. 

Instead, what this slate of games brought was a fun reality that's quickly setting in: Things are tight. 

They're tight at the top, they're tight in the middle and they're tight everywhere else. The margins between each team are incredibly slim. 

With that, let's take a look at the latest Power 10 rankings. 

1. Minnesota State (16-4-0) | Prev: 1 

Wait, is that *squints* a No. 1 team staying at No. 1 for two straight weeks? Cue Al Michaels famously shouting, "Do you believe in Miracles?!" because this must be 1980. 

Yes, Minnesota State is still No. 1 and most likely will be in this week's USCHO poll. 

COLLEGE HOCKEY RANKINGS: Check out the latest USCHO poll

But as much as No. 1 teams have been losing, the Mavericks holding their spot at the top shouldn't surprise anyone. They got two quality wins at Bemidji State this past weekend, winning, 5-1, on Friday and then 3-1 Saturday. As a whole, they're one of the most well-rounded teams in college hockey, ranking second in the nation in both goals for (78) and even strength Corsi For percentage (61.3 percent). They're fourth among teams with at least 15 games played in goals against (26). 

Minnesota State gets a few weeks off for the holidays before taking on Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 30. 

2. Quinnipiac (14-1-3) | Prev: 2

The Bobcats took care of business this past weekend, taking down LIU with scores of 4-1 and 5-0. 

While Quinnipiac doesn't boast the offense that Minnesota State does, it carries an extremely stout defense, which was on full display this past weekend. After giving up 11 shots and a goal in Game 1, Quinnipiac shut everything down in its own zone, limiting the Sharks to nine shots and no goals. 

Quinnipiac ranks No. 2 in this week's Power 10.

The Bobcats have only given up 20 goals on the season so far, which puts them first in the nation in goals against. Only allowing 20 goals in 18 games is sensational. They also consistently outshoot teams by a lot, which makes it no surprise they also rank No. 1 in even strength Corsi For percentage at 62.3 percent. 

Quinnipiac will pick play back up on Jan. 2 against Princeton. 

3. Michigan (14-6-0) | Prev: 3 

Here's where things tighten up even more. The next bunch of teams either split their series or did not play (I'm looking at you, St. Cloud State). There wasn't a ton of movement here just because I didn't feel as though anyone really separated themselves from the pack. 

The Wolverines opened their weekend with a 5-2 win over No. 17 Ohio State, but fell, 6-1, the following night. Not that shots are everything, but the Buckeyes played the Wolverines well, outshooting them, 38-25, Friday night and then 42-26 Saturday. 

What this weekend proves more than anything is that the Big Ten is going to be ultra-competitive between Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Notre Dame.  

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

The Huskies didn't play this weekend and the other teams in the middle didn't do anything exceptional enough to surpass them, so they stay at No. 4. 

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St. Cloud State doesn't play again until Dec. 31, when it travels to Bemidji State. 

5. Western Michigan (13-5-0) | Prev: 6 

The Broncos put up two solid games against No. 14 Omaha, winning, 4-2, Friday night and then losing, 1-0, Saturday. 

Graduate student forward Ethen Frank continued his great season, potting two goals in the win Friday night. His 17 goals lead the nation. He's tied for sixth in points with 24. He's been the heartbeat behind one of the best offenses in the nation. 

Ethen Frank leads the nation in goals.

The Broncos don't play again until Dec. 29 when they face Michigan State to open the 2021 Great Lakes Invitational Showcase. 

6. Minnesota Duluth (11-6-1) | Prev: 5 

The Bulldogs split their series with No. 11 Denver this past weekend, falling to the Pioneers, 5-0, and then rebounding well in the second game, winning 6-2. Forwards Jesse Jacques and Kobe Roth each had two goals in Saturday's win. 

Goalie Ryan Fanti posted an uncharacteristic performance in Game 1 when he allowed five goals on 26 shots. He made up for it the next night, stopping 29 of 31. 

Minnesota Duluth only moves down a single spot because of the five-goal loss and because Western Michigan looks to be slightly better. Fortunately, we'll get to see these two teams go head-to-head Jan. 29 and 30. Mark your calendars. 

7. Denver (11-5-0) | Prev: 9 

As mentioned earlier, the Pioneers had a solid weekend, taking down No. 5 Minnesota Duluth, 5-0, in Game 1 and then falling, 6-2, in Game 2. Junior goalie Magnus Chrona stopped 23 shots for the shutout on Friday night. 

The 6-2 loss isn't great, but there's bigger reasons as to why Denver moved up two spots on this week's very-tight rankings. 

For one, beating a top five team is a fairly big deal. Along with that, Denver's bounced back well from losing four in a row to end October and begin November. Since then, the Pioneers have won seven of eight. Another big thing: They're tied for third in USCHO's PairWise rankings

Denver will pick up play again on Dec. 31 against Alaska Fairbanks. 

8. North Dakota (13-6-0) | Prev: 8 

The Fighting Hawks took care of business this past weekend, sweeping Colorado College with wins of 5-2 and 4-1. Forward Louis Jamernik posted three goals on the weekend, while forward Gavin Han added two. 

A weekend set like this is big for North Dakota in trying to find its offensive game. It's currently tied for ninth in the nation in total goals for (64). Point production has mainly come from sophomore forward Riese Gaber (20) and star defenseman Jake Sanderson (19). 

A LOOK BACK: Takeaways from a wild month of November in DI men's hockey 

North Dakota will get the next few weeks off, picking up play again on Jan. 1 against the U.S. Under-18 team. 

9. Cornell (9-1-1) | Prev: 7 

The Big Red didn't play this past weekend, so the reason they fell in these rankings had almost nothing to do with them. Both Denver and North Dakota had good weekends, which gave them routes past Cornell in this week's Power 10. 

Cornell will start playing again on Jan. 1 when it faces Arizona State. 

10. UMass (9-4-2) | Prev: NR 

The Minutemen find themselves back in the top 10, and rightfully so. Their only game over the past week was a road game at Merrimack last Wednesday, which they won, 3-2 in overtime. 

But what gets UMass on this list is how much success it's had with so many injuries. Over the past month, there have been times in which the reigning national champs have been without top contributors Josh Lopina, Cal Kiefiuk, Eric Faith and Garrett Wait. 

UMass is back in the top 10.

Despite the injury bug nailing the team, UMass hasn't lost in regulation since opening weekend on Oct. 3. Once it returns to full health, the Minutemen should be a regular in these rankings. 

After a few weeks off, UMass will continue its season on Dec. 31 against Union. 

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