February 01, 2008

SIOC's look at the college hockey universe.

These are based on the KRACH Rankings, a computer system that College Hockey Newspublishes each week. The NCAA uses a different objective system which is a bit more hodge-podge, but better than smoke-filled rooms and guesswork. That's called the Pairwise system.

1. Michigan (22-3-1) -- Stumbled with just one point against Michigan State last weekend, but still great.

2. Miami (25-3-0) -- Practically a dead heat with Michigan, slightly worse schedule. These two will hook up next weekend in Oxford.

3. Denver (18-6-0) -- Playing without its top scorer indefinitely.

4. Colorado College (18-7-1) -- Hosts of the West Regional this year, with the Frozen Four up the road in Denver.

5. North Dakota (16-8-1) -- Winners of seven straight, and making its annual second-half surge.

6. Michigan State (17-5-5) -- Defending champs looked great against Michigan.

7. New Hampshire (15-7-1) -- Have had ups and downs, but are solid in every area.

8. Notre Dame (20-9-1) -- Stumbled hard against Michigan, but took out frustrations on Bowling Green last weekend.

9. Wisconsin (11-10-5) -- Have played the nation's second-toughest schedule, after North Dakota.

10. Boston College (12-5-7) -- The poster children for removing ties from college hockey, as some want to do.

The WCHA finally suspended referee Randy Schmidt for two blown replay calls that potentially cost points to St. Cloud State and Wisconsin.

Denver sophomore forward Brock Trotter is not with the team for its trip this weekend to Minnesota State, and it's uncertain when he will return. In not disclosing the reason for his absence, Denver coach George Gwozdecky revealed that it wasn't because of an injury. "It's a decision that's been made internally, and he will not be with us this weekend," Gwozdecky told the Denver Post. "Each of our players have private lives and I hope people respect their privacy."

Two of college hockey's best players were lost for the season. Air Force's Eric Ehn -- a Hobey Baker Award finalist last season -- broke his leg in the team's tie against Colorado College. Boston College's Brock Bradford -- who missed the first half of the season with a broken arm then returned with a torrid streak -- broke the same arm in a different location.


After a strong start, there have been a couple of moments this season when Michigan Tech looked like it was returning to its old ways. After all, it's been decades since Tech was a perennial WCHA power. But each time, the Huskies have responded, and showed why the enthusiasm and optimism remains in Houghton.

Earlier this year, No. 1 goalie Michael-Lee Teslak went down in a series with Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan, and the team learned that prized recruit Casey Pierro-Zabotel -- who was supposed to join the team for the Great Lakes Invitational -- opted for the WHL. But backup goalie Rob Nolan performed well and the team put up several strong performances in the GLI.

Now, following a bad weekend against North Dakota, the Huskies have again responded, taking three points from Colorado College last weekend. Tech put Saturday's game away with a strong third period.

"It was our first weekend at home in WCHA play since November 10," Tech coach Jamie Russell said. "We've been on the road a ton. When we were at Grand Forks, we were road weary, and we played like it. So we were excited to be back at home and playing in front of our crowd. We had a lot of energy in that third period."

Tech has the luxury of three seniors as its top three scorers -- JimmyKerr, Peter Rouleau and Tyler Shelast. That's something that other WCHA teams don't have, given all of the players who have left early over recent years. But, as has been discussed at length recently, it's also a great equalizer.

"To be honest, I don't feel sorry for them," Russell said about his WCHA foes like Denver, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which have had so many underclassmen leave early. "Early this season, everyone said they're so young and have a lot of freshman. We have a lot of veterans and nobody felt sorry for us when we were rebuilding with 17 freshmen and sophomores."

With 14 points, Michigan Tech is currently tied for seventh in the WCHA standings, but with two games in hand over the other two seventh-place teams -- St. Cloud State and Minnesota State. The Huskies also have two games in hand over the three times above them -- Minnesota (15 points), Wisconsin (17) and Minnesota-Duluth (17).

North Dakota has won seven straight games and soared back near the top, while Minnesota has struggled this season and could be headed for its first sub-.500 league record since 1998-99, Doug Woog's last season as head coach. But it's always entertaining when the two meet up, as they do this weekend.

Providence is at Boston College this Friday. With the Friars' hot play lately, they are fourth in Hockey East amid a big lump of teams. Last year, the Friars were next to last in the nation on the power play. This year, they are fifth. Clarkson is at Colorado College for two non-league, but important, games.

Adam Wodon is the Managing Editor for College Hockey News. He has covered college hockey as a writer and broadcaster for 19 years.

You May Like