Since the calendar flipped to 2022, this past weekend was the best men's college hockey action we've seen.
The big matchup of the weekend was in the Big Ten with No. 3 Michigan and No. 11 Minnesota on ESPNU. Then there was No. 4 Western Michigan battling No. 9 North Dakota in the NCHC, No. 1 Quinnipiac facing No. 8 Cornell in the ECAC and No. 12 Northeastern taking on No. 14 UMass in Hockey East. There were enough heavyweight fights in one weekend to make the UFC raise its eyebrows.
And the cherry on top? No. 2 Minnesota State's outdoor game against St. Thomas on Saturday afternoon.
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All of these massive tilts, plus many more, shook up this week's rankings.
1. Minnesota State (23-5-0) | Prev: 1
Who wants to start the petition to make Blakeslee Stadium the permanent home for Minnesota State men's and women's hockey teams?
While the players might dislike having to play in frigid temperatures and pushing the puck through snow all over the ice sheet every weekend, Saturday's outdoor game at Minnesota State's football field to celebrate Hockey Day Minnesota made for an event that left fans wanting more.
The snow globe atmosphere mixed with some great new sweaters for both squads and a rowdy bunch of fans created the perfect day, especially for Minnesota State who won the game, 7-1, to complete the sweep. The Mavericks beat the Tommies the day before, 5-1.
In the 7-1 win in the outdoor extravaganza, sophomore forward David Silye posted his first collegiate hat trick.
Despite being ranked No. 2 in the USCHO poll last week, the Mavericks stayed atop my Power 10 last week and after two large wins over St. Thomas, they stay here at No. 1 this week.
Up next is a home series against Arizona State.
2. Western Michigan (16-5-0) | Prev: 6
The next two spots in this Power 10 were extremely difficult but ultimately, I went with Western Michigan at No. 2.
The Broncos scored a big sweep over No. 9 North Dakota, taking down the Fighting Hawks, 4-1, in Game 1 and 2-0 in Game 2.
Junior defenseman Ronnie Attard continued his outstanding season, potting two goals and an assist in the first win. In the second game, it was all about junior goalie Brandon Bussi stopping all 24 shots he faced. As of right now, Bussi is a strong dark horse candidate for the Mike Richter Award, which is given annually to the top goalie in DI men's college hockey.
Western Michigan is tied for third in PairWise. But with the sweep over North Dakota, the Broncos have won nine of their last 10 games, making them one of the hottest teams in college hockey. Another important thing to note: These were Western Michigan's first games in almost a month. Due to postponements, as well as a scheduled weekend off, the Broncos' last game before this weekend came on Dec. 29 against Michigan State.
Next on the schedule is a big road series with Minnesota Duluth.
3. Michigan (19-7-1) | Prev: 2
The matchup everyone in the college hockey world had circled on their calendar was between Michigan and Minnesota this past weekend and it didn't disappoint.
Michigan came away with the split, falling to the Golden Gophers, 2-1, in overtime in Game 1 and then getting revenge in Game 2 with a 4-1 win.
Matty Beniers from the same spot! Owen Power and Kent Johnson with the assists pic.twitter.com/Fu8fEB8E94— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) January 23, 2022
In the win, the Wolverines went down 1-0 just 2:46 into the game. They responded with four unanswered goals on 19 shots. But what really got them the win was sophomore netminder Erik Portillo standing on his head and stopping 39 of the 40 shots sent his way.
In the OT loss, Michigan outshot Minnesota, 27-25. Still, Minnesota's physicality and aggressiveness prevented Michigan from playing its normal game.
It wasn't the greatest weekend for Michigan, but it still got the split and ranks inside my top three.
The Wolverines travel to Wisconsin for a set against the Badgers this weekend.
4. Denver (16-5-1) | Prev: 4
The Pioneers swept their home-and-home series with Colorado College this past weekend with wins of 5-0 and 4-0. They dominated. Over the two games, Denver outshot Colorado College, 80-35. Junior goalie Magnus Chrona stopped all 35 shots he faced.
Senior forward Cole Guttman registered a big weekend, scoring three goals over the two games. Bobby Brink also added three points on the weekend, bringing him to a five-way tie for third in the country in points with 32.
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Denver is tied with Western Michigan for third in PairWise. It feels as though it's a battle between those two squads for the top spot in the NCHC.
The Pioneers travel to Ohio this weekend to take on Miami University.
5. Quinnipiac (18-2-3) | Prev: 3
The Bobcats dropped two spots due to a couple of reasons.
The biggest is that they fell to No. 8 Cornell, 2-1, in overtime. It's unfortunate we didn't get to see a full series between the two ECAC foes — the two don't play each other again until Feb. 25. So, this is what we have to go off of. Despite losing, Quinnipiac outshot the Big Red, 34-20.
Another reason is simply that things are extremely tight in the top five. Still, the Bobcats are a top-five team and I expect them to push back into the top three.
Not to be forgotten is the win the Bobcats got on Friday night when they took down Colgate, 5-1. Senior defenseman Zach Metsa put on a show in the victory, scoring two goals and adding an assist. He now has 23 points in 23 games on the season, slotting him second in the country in points among all defensemen.
Quinnipiac takes on Princeton this Wednesday and then has the Connecticut Ice tournament this weekend.
6. St. Cloud State (14-6-0) | Prev: 5
The Huskies only fall a spot because the teams like Western Michigan and Denver did so well and I couldn't move Michigan and Quinnipiac outside of the top five.
Nevertheless, St. Cloud State disposed of Miami (OH) quite easily, beating the RedHawks, 11-1, in Game 1 and 8-0 in Game 2.
Veeti’s got ✌️ through 20! 🙌#GoHuskies | #HuskyHockey 🏒— St. Cloud State Men's Hockey (@SCSUHuskies_MH) January 23, 2022
It was a point weekend for the Huskies, with players all over the roster racking up winnings. Senior defenseman Nick Perbix posted a goal and six points in the 11-1 win and then added two assists the next night.
St. Cloud State heads to Grand Forks, North Dakota to take on a struggling Fighting Hawks squad this weekend.
7. Cornell (13-4-1) | Prev: 7
The Big Red stay at No. 7 in these rankings after a 5-4 loss to Princeton and then a thrilling, 2-1 OT win over No. 1 Quinnipiac.
Against Princeton, Cornell went down 3-0 midway through the second period and battled back to make it a one-goal game. Still, the Big Red never held a lead in the contest. Junior defenseman Sam Malinski posted three assists in the loss.
The biggest Cornell performer on the weekend, however, was junior forward Ben Berard who had a goal and an assist in the loss and then two goals in the win. His most notable goal came in overtime to beat Quinnipiac.
DOWN GOES NO. 1🚨— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) January 23, 2022
Ben Berard scored twice, including the OT-game winner, to solidify No. 8 @CornellMhockey’s upset over No. 1 Quinnipiac.#NCAAHockey x 🎥@CornellVideopic.twitter.com/vfB3IYAmTt
Up next are home games against Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.
8. UMass (12-6-2) | Prev: NR
The Minutemen make their way back into the Power 10 after a massive sweep of No. 12 Northeastern. First, UMass edged out Northeastern, 3-2, at home, and then the next night, the Minutemen went into Boston and took down the Huskies, 6-0.
In the 3-2 win, UMass scored three second-period goals and held off the Huskies' attack in the third period. The next night was a much different story.
Oh and we’ll just leave this here @HobeyBakerAward #NewMass X #Flagship 🚩 pic.twitter.com/mJ7qStl6cZ— UMass Hockey (@UMassHockey) January 23, 2022
The Minutemen dominated. Senior captain Bobby Trivigno potted two goals and an assist. Senior Garrett Wait added three assists en route to the win.
UMass ranks No. 5 in PairWise. It wouldn't surprise anyone if they hovered around that ranking for the rest of the season.
9. Minnesota Duluth (13-9-2) | Prev: 9
The Bulldogs split their series with Omaha this past weekend, winning 5-1 on Friday and losing 5-1 on Saturday.
Blake Biondi continued his terrific season, scoring a goal and two assists in the win. He leads Minnesota Duluth in points with 18.
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The 5-1 loss featured an uncharacteristic performance from star goalie Ryan Fanti. He allowed four goals on 24 shots.
Minnesota Duluth will look to get back on track in a huge home series against Western Michigan. Those games will have large ramifications for these rankings.
10. Minnesota (14-10-0) | Prev: NR
The Golden Gophers make it back in my top 10 after splitting their weekend series with Michigan.
In the win on Friday night, Minnesota held its own, and so too did new starting goalie Justen Close who stopped 26 of Michigan's 27 shots. And then of course there was junior Ben Meyers' OT-winner, which was electrifying.
BEN MEYERS CALLED GAME pic.twitter.com/5NCmuJmlS0— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) January 22, 2022
The next night saw Minnesota dominate...and lose 4-1. The Gophers outshot the Wolverines, 40-19. Minnesota tried everything to score, but Portillo's sensational play prevented the Gophers from scoring more than once.
Still, this past weekend's performance was good enough to get Minnesota back in these rankings.
Up next is a road series against Notre Dame.