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Evan Marinofsky | | January 9, 2022

Men's college hockey rankings: Michigan and Cornell make big statements in weekend sweeps

NHL's No. 1 pick Owen Power explains decision to return to Michigan

Even with some NCHC postponements of what would've been two spectacular series (St. Cloud State-Minnesota Duluth and Denver-Omaha), there was still enough DI men's college hockey to satisfy the palate. 

For starters, we got to see the reigning national champs take on a team many have penciled in to be in the Frozen Four. We also got to witness Cornell go into North Dakota and do something that hasn't been done in over four years. 

Both weekend sets had large impacts on this week's men's power 10 rankings, so let's dive right in. 

1. Minnesota State (20-4-0) | Prev: 1 

Exactly no one should be surprised to see Minnesota State keeping its crown as the No. 1 team in the nation. 

The Mavericks disposed of Ferris State this past weekend with wins of 7-1 and 7-0. Senior Wyatt Aamodt posted a big night in Game 1, potting a hat trick. Star junior Nathan Smith also had a great weekend, posting six points over the two games. Honestly, with 14 total goals, there were points all over the lineup for the Mavericks. 

In net, Dryden McKay was his normal, superb self, stopping 33 of 34 shots over the two games. 

RANKINGS: Check out the latest USCHO poll

Also, shoutout to head coach Mike Hastings for being named a U.S. Olympic Hockey Team assistant coach. 

Next up for Minnesota State is a weekend set at Northern Michigan. 

2. Michigan (16-6-1) | Prev: 5 

This past weekend was massive for the Wolverines and they clearly came to play, sweeping UMass over both games by scores of 4-1 and 4-2. 

The Kent Johnson-Matty Beniers-Brendan Brisson line was huge. The line posted 14 points, including five goals, over the two games. That total would've been higher had it not been for the great play in net of Minutemen netminder Matt Murray. The trio especially dominated at 5v5. UMass didn't appear to have an answer for them. 

But this weekend was bigger than just a normal sweep for the Wolverines. 

Don't get me wrong — Michigan has some quality wins this season. But none of the teams they faced prior to this weekend won the national championship last season. UMass did, and Michigan controlled play for all 120 minutes. In a true measuring stick weekend, Michigan proved it belongs as a Frozen Four favorite for this April. 

3. Quinnipiac (14-1-3) | Prev: 2 

Unfortunately, the Bobcats didn't play this past weekend as their games against Brown and Yale were postponed due to health and safety protocols at both schools. 

Quinnipiac is slated to face Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend. 

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

St. Cloud State's series with Minnesota Duluth this past weekend was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols which is unfortunate because that series would've been a blast. 

Shoutout to Huskies bench boss Brett Larson who was named a U.S. Olympic Hockey Team assistant coach. 

BROKEN BUT NOT BEATEN: Read about St. Cloud State's Easton Brodzinski's journey back from a broken leg

Next up is a big weekend series against Denver. 

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

The Broncos didn't have any games scheduled for this past weekend. One piece of news that came out of Western Michigan since the last Power 10 rankings is that Brandon Bussi won NCHC goalie of the month for December. He finished with a 4-1-0 record, a 2.02 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. He's the first WMU goalie to ever win goalie of the month. 

Next on the schedule is a weekend set at Colorado College. 

6. Denver (12-5-1) | Prev: 6 

The Pioneers had a series with Omaha this past weekend that was postponed until Feb. 4-5. 

In other Denver news, senior Brett Stapley was named NCHC player of the month for December with his nine points in five games. Freshman Carter Mazur was named NCHC rookie of the month after he led all NCHC rookies with eight points in five games. With Mazur winning this award, Denver now has had a player named NCHC rookie of the month in each of the first three months of the season. 

Next up is a weekend set at home against St. Cloud State. That will have a big impact on next week's rankings. 

7. Cornell (11-3-1) | Prev: NR 

The Big Red did something this past weekend that a team hasn't done in over four years. They swept the Fighting Hawks in North Dakota. The last time that happened: Nov. 16-17, 2018 against Western Michigan. 

Cornell swept North Dakota this past weekend.

Cornell went into North Dakota and took down the No. 5 Fighting Hawks over two games by final scores of 4-3 and 3-1, scoring three unanswered goals in both games. 

What made this weekend even more impressive was the Big Red did all of this without their second-leading point-getter in Matt Stienburg and without trusty forward Ben Berard. 

In Game 1, the Fighting Hawks took a 2-1 lead into the second period. Entering Friday's game, North Dakota had won 47 straight games when leading after two. That streak ended this weekend after Cornell rattled off three goals in the third period to win 4-3. 

SWEPT: Read about Cornell's sweep of North Dakota this past weekend

Cornell goalie Ian Shane was terrific over the two games, stopping 55 of the 59 shots he faced. 

After getting swept last weekend on the road at Arizona State, this sweep is sure to set the Big Red back on track. 

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

The Bulldogs stay at No. 8 this week after having their series against St. Cloud State postponed this past weekend. 

THE BEST: Here's the best players at each position from the first half

Minnesota Duluth is scheduled to host Miami (OH) this upcoming weekend. 

9. Minnesota (12-8-0) | Prev: NR 

Welcome back to the Power 10, Minnesota. 

The Golden Gophers finally got the weekend sweep they'd been looking for, taking down Michigan State on the road. First, it was a 4-1 win on Friday night. Saturday saw the Gophers go down 3-1, but storm back at the end of the second period to tie the game, 3-3. They never looked back, as they took Saturday's game, 6-3. 

Junior forward Ben Meyers was huge in the wins, potting four goals and one assist in the two games. 

The sweep didn't end up being the news of the weekend. 

Jack LaFontaine signed with the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday night.

Star goalie Jack LaFontaine signed with the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday night. Last year's Mike Richter Award winner was drafted by Carolina 75th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. 

How Minnesota plans to make up for LaFontaine's massive loss is unclear. He's the only goalie on the Gophers roster to start any games this season. 

10. North Dakota (13-8-0) | Prev: 7 

This past weekend was a rough one for the Fighting Hawks. Cornell came into Ralph Engelstad Arena and had its way with the home squad which, as stated earlier, isn't the usual. 

If there's a positive to take out of this weekend for the Fighting Hawks, it's that they outshot Cornell both nights. 

North Dakota will look to get back on track against Omaha at home this weekend. 

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