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Evan Marinofsky | | January 3, 2022

Men's college hockey rankings: Minnesota State asserts itself as No. 1 team in first Power 10 of second half

The top storylines to watch in college hockey this year

The holiday break has passed and the second half of the men's college hockey season is here, which means one thing: It's time for some Power 10 rankings. 

This wasn't the craziest weekend of action we've seen, and that's alright. Some teams haven't begun play in the second half yet, but enough did to begin ranking teams again. With all likelihood, it will actually be next weekend's slate of games that are full of must-watch matchups. Denver takes on Omaha, Minnesota Duluth battles St. Cloud State, UMass clashes with Michigan and Cornell faces North Dakota. My guess is all of those matchups will shake these rankings up quite a bit. 

One thing before we get started: The "previous" ranking is the one from the final ranking of the first half and not the rankings of the entire first half. 

Let's dive in. 

1. Minnesota State (18-4-0) | Prev: 1 

The Mavericks opened up the second half like they opened up the first half: With a huge sweep of a very good team. 

This time it was taking down Minnesota Duluth. The first win was by a score of 2-1 and the second was 3-0. The fun part about the series was there was a day off in between, which allowed it to be a home-and-home. Minnesota State had no problem winning in either situation. 

Junior forward Cade Borchardt had quite the weekend. His biggest moment came in Game 1 when he potted the OT winner off some sweet sauce from teammate Brendan Furry. The second was his second goal of the weekend, which came in the three-goal win on New Year's Day. 

Star goalie Dryden McKay was his typical self this weekend, stopping 26 of 27 in the first game and then earning a 23-save shutout in the second. 

Next up is a series at home with Ferris State. 

2. Quinnipiac (14-1-3) | Prev: 2 

The Bobcats haven't played since Dec. 10 and 11 when they swept Long Island. They begin their second half this Friday against Brown. 

3. St. Cloud State (12-6-0) | Prev: 4 

After losing four of their last five to end the first half, the Huskies got the exact start they needed in the second half, sweeping Bemidji State by scores of 4-1 and 5-2. 

Senior forward Sam Hentges posted a three-goal weekend skating alongside Nolan Walker and Easton Brodzinski. Sophomore Veeti Miettinen also had a strong offensive showing over the two games, potting two goals and an assist. 

END OF THE FIRST HALF: Here were the top 10 teams in the first half

St. Cloud State will look to stay hot this weekend when it hosts Minnesota Duluth. 

4. Western Michigan (14-5-0) | Prev: 5 

Western Michigan vs. Michigan — the matchup the college hockey world so desperately wanted to see — didn't get to happen this past Thursday after Michigan canceled the game due to "health and welfare protocols" within its program

So, all we have to go off of is the Broncos' 3-1 win over Michigan State. WMU controlled play for most of the night, with junior goalie Brandon Bussi coming up with 28 stops on 29 shots. 

Western Michigan ranks No. 4 this week.

Western Michigan gets next weekend off. The Broncos will resume play Jan. 14 when they travel to Colorado Springs for a two-game set against Colorado College. 

5. Michigan (14-6-0) | Prev: 3 

Like Western Michigan, Michigan only played one game this past weekend, skating to a 0-0 tie with Michigan Tech. Michigan goalie Erik Portillo was his team's MVP, stopping all 27 shots he faced. 

Here's a fun fact: The last time Michigan recorded a scoreless tie was 67 years ago in February 1954. It came against Michigan State. 

BEST PLAYERS: Here were the best players at every position through the first half 

It's hard to lower the Wolverines' rank by two spots with them missing some of their best players due to World Juniors. Nevertheless, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan took care of business in their games, so they moved up. 

Michigan will have a chance to climb back into the top three this weekend when they take on UMass — the reigning national champion. 

6. Denver (12-5-1) | Prev: 7 

The Pioneers opened their second half with a set against Alaska Fairbanks, winning 7-2 in Game 1 and playing to a 4-4 tie in Game 2. 

After this weekend, Denver has the best offense in the country, narrowly edging out Minnesota State and Michigan for most goals for (84). Senior forward Cameron Wright helped that out quite a bit, potting a hat trick in Game 1. Bobby Brink, his linemate, registered a goal and three assists that night as well. 

In the tie, the Pioneers still dominated the Nanooks, outshooting them, 47-21. Alaska Fairbanks goalie Gustavs Davis Grigals was sensational, stopping 43 of those shots to earn the tie. Still, that didn't stop forward Brett Stapley from factoring in on each Denver goal, as the senior recorded the first four-point night of his career. 

Next up is a huge road series with Omaha this weekend. 

7. North Dakota (13-6-0) | Prev: 8

The only game the Fighting Hawks played over the break was a Jan. 1 exhibition against the U.S. National Under-18 Team that they lost, 2-0. But it doesn't count toward its record, so North Dakota won't fall far in these rankings. 

The Fighting Hawks will need to bring their best next weekend when they take on Cornell. 

8. Minnesota Duluth (11-8-1) | Prev: 6 

The Bulldogs got off to a rough start to their second half after being swept by Minnesota State in losses of 2-1 and 3-0. That's now losses in five of their last six games. 

POLL: Check out the latest USCHO poll

However, the Bulldogs have a great chance to propel themselves back into the top five with a road series against St. Cloud State this upcoming weekend. 

9. UMass (9-4-2) | Prev: 10 

The Minutemen's series this past weekend against Union was postponed, but they added a game against Merrimack for Monday night. 

UMass moves up a spot for two reasons. One is that Cornell was swept by Arizona State. The second (and most important) reason is that due to the holiday break, UMass gets back sophomore forward Josh Lopina and senior forward Garrett Wait, bolstering its top-six attack up front. 

After facing Merrimack Monday, the Minutemen have a huge series on the road against Michigan this weekend. 

10. Northeastern (13-4-1) | Prev: NR 

Welcome to the Power 10, Northeastern. Glad to have you. 

The Huskies didn't play over the holiday break, so this No. 10 slot is going to a team I project to be very good in the second half and fight for top-10 consideration every single week. Northeastern fits that description perfectly. 

Sophomore goalie Devon Levi has been the best in the country at his position so far this season with the No. 1 save percentage (.955) and No. 4 goals against average (1.33). It's no secret that hot goaltending can take teams far in college hockey, and Levi with Northeastern appears to be no different. 

Because of Levi and a strong defensive core, the Huskies have given up the second-fewest goals in the nation (25). 

Next up is a series with Long Island. 

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