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Evan Marinofsky | | February 21, 2022

Men's college hockey rankings: North Dakota moves up as Power 10 gets a new look

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The NCHC has produced some of the best college hockey action this season. What's even more incredible is the league's ability to be consistently inconsistent every week. 

While the top five teams remain the same, the next five are much different. NCHC matchups from this past weekend are a huge reason why. 

Let's dive into this week's rankings. 

1. Minnesota State (29-5-0) | Prev: 1 

For the fifth-straight season, Minnesota State won the CCHA title. The Mavericks lifted the MacNaughton Cup after snagging a pair of 5-1 wins over Bemidji State this past weekend. 

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Senior Julian Napravnik stayed hot, scoring two goals and two assists in the wins. Since junior Nathan Smith left for the Olympics in early February, Napravnik has been a key cog on offense, posting eight points over the four games. He's tied with Smith for third in the nation with 41 points. 

Senior goalie Dryden McKay had another great weekend, stopping 46 of the 48 shots he faced. His goals against average of 1.26 ranks second in the country, while his save percentage of .934 ranks third. 

The Mavericks finish off their regular season with a weekend series at Michigan Tech. 

2. Michigan (25-7-1) | Prev: 2 

Michigan got a huge sweep over then-No. 11 Ohio State this past weekend, taking down the Buckeyes with scores of 5-3 and 3-0. 

Aside from it being a statement-like sweep for the Wolverines, the moment everyone will remember from this series was when freshman defender Luke Hughes decided to do everything by himself midway through Game 2. 

Yeah... pretty good, right? 

It's a play-of-the-year candidate. His dangle of OSU freshman defender Cole McWard at the Buckeye blue line was spectacular. But the play gets the conversation going about just how great Hughes has been this season. That flashy goal was his third of the weekend and 16th of the season. He leads all defensemen in both goals and points (32). 

Next up is another huge series. This one is at Notre Dame to close out the regular season. 

3. Denver (22-7-1) | Prev: 3 

The Pioneers stay put at No. 3 in this week's rankings after splitting their weekend series with Western Michigan. Denver came away with a 4-1 win Friday night, but fell, 6-4, on Saturday. It was a great series that showcased how close the two NCHC rivals are. 

Denver keeps the higher ranking because it outplayed the Broncos for the majority of both games. In Game 1, the Pioneers got goals from sophomores Carter Savoie and Mike Benning, junior Bobby Brink and freshman Carter Mazur. Even though they lost in Game 2, they still came back from down 5-1 to make it 5-4 early in the third period. They also outshot Western Michigan, 46-34, in the loss. 

Brink continues to impress. He leads the country with 49 points in 30 games and since the calendar flipped to 2022, he hasn't had a game without a point. He carries a 14-game point streak, tallying 28 points over that span. 

Denver heads to Omaha next weekend.

4. Western Michigan (20-8-1) | Prev: 4 

Like Denver, Western Michigan stays in its previous ranking after the weekend split. 

Despite falling, 4-1, in Game 1, the Broncos exploded for six goals in Game 2, rattling off four unanswered in the first and second period from graduate student Josh Passolt, sophomore Ty Glover, senior Michael Joyaux and senior Jamie Rome. The first and final goals came from graduate student Ethen Frank. He leads the country in goals with 23. 

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The Broncos travel to Grand Forks for a huge series with North Dakota this weekend. 

5. Minnesota (21-11-0) | Prev: 5 

Since Jack LaFontaine departed Minnesota to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Golden Gophers are 9-3-0 with three-straight sweeps over Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Prior to that, they earned wins over Alaska, Michigan and Notre Dame. A lot of that was also done without Brock Faber, Matthew Knies and Ben Meyers — those three were off competing for Team USA in Beijing

They've been one of the biggest surprises in the second half and that continued this past weekend when they swept Penn State with wins of 3-1 and 6-4. 

Minnesota had two big stories on the weekend. The first was the comeback in Game 2. After going down 3-0 in the first period, the Gophers outscored Penn State, 6-2, over the final 40 minutes en route to the 6-4 win. 

The other was goalie Justen Close, and it's been a developing story. He stopped 60 of 65 shots on the weekend. His 2.00 GAA is top-10 in the nation and his .924 save percentage is tied for 11th. He's been everything and more for a Minnesota team who was in desperate need of a boost when he first went in between the pipes. 

Up next is a home series with Wisconsin to close out the regular season. 

6. North Dakota (19-11-1) | Prev: 9 

While the first five were the same as last week, the next five are almost completely different. 

The Fighting Hawks got a huge weekend sweep of Minnesota Duluth this past weekend, taking the Bulldogs down, 4-3, in Game 1 and then, 3-2, in Game 2. Both were close, hard-fought wins on the road, which is what North Dakota needed in the NCHC race. The Fighting Hawks sit a point ahead of Denver in the NCHC standings for first place. 

North Dakota got scoring from all over the lineup. On Friday night, it was sophomore Tyler Kleven, freshman Luke Bast, sophomore Cooper Moore and junior Ethan Frisch. Saturday saw junior Carson Albrecht, freshman Dane Montgomery and sophomore Louis Jamernik find the scoresheet. 

Senior goalie Zach Driscoll was outstanding over the two wins, stopping 69 of the 74 shots sent his way. 

Next up is a weekend series at home against Western Michigan. 

7. Quinnipiac (26-4-3) | Prev: 7 

Even though the Bobcats lost to then-No. 18 Harvard, 1-0, on Saturday night, they've been slotted low these past couple of rankings, so they stay at No. 7 this week. 

Quinnipiac earned a solid 5-0 win over Dartmouth on Friday, getting two goals from graduate student Oliver Chau and then lamplighters from seniors Zach Metsa, TJ Friedmann and Marcus Chorney. Metsa has 31 points on the season, which ranks him No. 2 among all defensemen in the country. 

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While Metsa has been putting on a superb season, he found heartbreak Saturday night when he narrowly missed an open cage against Harvard with one second left. That would've tied the game but instead, Quinnipiac lost, 1-0. Harvard goalie Mitchell Gibson was perfect, stopping all 39 shots he faced. 

Up next is a game against Yale on Tuesday and then home matchups with Cornell and Colgate to finish out the regular season. 

8. Notre Dame (23-9-0) | Prev: NR 

The Fighting Irish join this week's Power 10 rankings after a sweep of Michigan State. Notre Dame got a 2-1 win on Friday and then a 4-2 win on Saturday. 

One of the really interesting things about Notre Dame is that it's one of only three teams in this week's Power 10 who rank top 10 in both goals for and goals against. The other two: Minnesota State and Quinnipiac. It's no mistake that the Fighting Irish are a top-10 team. 

Notre Dame sits five points back of Ohio State for third place in the Big Ten standings. 

What's going to be really interesting is the final series of the season for the Fighting Irish: a home set with Michigan this weekend. It'll be a great preview for the Big Ten playoffs. 

9. Minnesota Duluth (15-13-3) | Prev: 6 

The Bulldogs had a tough weekend, losing to North Dakota on Friday, 4-3, and then on Saturday by a score of 3-2. Still, the Bulldogs outshot North Dakota in both games by a combined 74-56. 

Because Minnesota Duluth is in the NCHC, its season won't end this weekend. It has ample chances for a rebound. It starts with a game on Tuesday against St. Cloud State and then a weekend series with Miami (OH). The regular season doesn't end for the Bulldogs until March 4 & 5 when they host St. Cloud State for a set. 

10. UMass (17-10-2) | Prev: 10 

The Minutemen cling to their No. 10 ranking after splitting a series with then-No. 20 UConn, winning, 2-1, on Friday and then losing on Saturday, 4-2. Despite the split, the Minutemen stay in the final spot. They also rank No. 9 in PairWise

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There was one constant in both games for UMass: senior Bobby Trivigno's production. Trivigno posted a goal and two assists on the weekend, bringing his point total on the season to 35, which is tied for fifth in the country. He leads Hockey East in points with 27. 

UMass heads to Vermont this weekend for a series with the Catamounts. 

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