May 19, 2024

Ilfa Sprot

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Men’s college hockey rankings: Denver rises, UMass Lowell joins new Power 10

6 min read
Men’s college hockey rankings: Denver rises, UMass Lowell joins new Power 10

One of the dominating themes of the first half of this men’s college hockey season was the constant movement inside the top 10. It was almost a guarantee that if a school was in one spot during one week, it would be in a different one the next. 

This week we’re seeing the rankings become a bit more solidified. As always, there was movement, such as Denver jumping up and UMass Lowell joining the the top 10. But there was one team who did something that is usually grounds for falling in the rankings…and it didn’t. 

Here is this week’s Power 10. 

1. Minnesota State (21-5-0) | Prev: 1 

This is that team. 

The Mavericks split a series with Northern Michigan this past weekend, losing 4-2 on Friday but then rebounding well and winning, 4-1, on Saturday. The most notable Minnesota State performer on the weekend was senior Julian Napravnik who registered a goal in the loss and three assists in the win. And then there was Dryden McKay in net who after only stopping 14 of 17 shots in Game 1, bounced back by making 24 saves on 25 shots in the win. 

So, why are the Mavericks still No. 1 after losing a game? 

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Because through almost four months of action, they’ve been the best, most consistent team in college hockey. They’re No. 1 in PairWise. They have the most goals for (103) and are top three in fewest goals against (33). They’re the most well-rounded team in college hockey. One loss this past weekend doesn’t change that. 

Next up is a home-and-home with St. Thomas. 

2. Michigan (18-6-1) | Prev: 2 

The Wolverines scored two close conference wins over Penn State this past weekend. 

In the first game, Michigan rattled off three first period goals from freshman Luke Hughes and sophomores Matty Beniers and Kent Johnson. Despite Penn State scoring two in the third to cut the lead to a single goal, Michigan held on for a 3-2 win. 

The next night went much differently for Michigan, as Penn State jumped out to a 3-1 lead midway through the second. Even though the Nittany Lions outplayed the Wolverines, Michigan got a goal from Beniers late in the second, and then Hughes added one early in the third. Sophomore Brendan Brisson scored the eventual game-winner midway through the final 20 minutes. 

This is Brisson’s game winner. It’s pretty nice, right? 

The real MVP of the second win: Goalie Erik Portillo, who finished Saturday with 44 stops on 47 shots. 

Next up for Michigan is a massive conference matchup at Minnesota this upcoming weekend. 

3. Quinnipiac (16-1-3) | Prev: 3 

One of the matchups I’ve been interested in all season is the ECAC battle between Quinnipiac and Harvard. The Bobcats are a much older, experienced team while Harvard’s young and quick. 

Those teams clashed for the first time this past weekend. It’s clear that the Bobcats are the better team (for now). 

Quinnipiac controlled play for much of the night and greatly limited Harvard offensively. The Crimson could only muster 13 shots on Bobcats goalie Yaniv Perets. He had no problem stopping all 13 of them. 

Sophomore forward Ty Smilanic put on a show, scoring two goals and adding an assist. His first goal was especially nice, as he was held by Harvard defenseman Marshall Rifai and still managed to score with only one hand on his stick. 

The Bobcats followed up that great win with a 3-1 victory over Dartmouth on Sunday. 

Next up is Princeton this Tuesday and then on the road for Colgate and Cornell this weekend. That game against Cornell will be huge for two things: the conference and these rankings. 

4. Denver (14-5-1) | Prev: 6 

The Pioneers get a well-deserved boost in these rankings after sweeping then-No. 15 Omaha this past weekend with wins of 5-2 and 4-0. It was a series originally scheduled for Feb. 25 and 26. 

In the 5-2 win, the line of freshmen Carter Mazur and Massimo Rizzo and senior Cameron Wright was rolling. All had three points each with Mazur posting three assists, Wright registering two goals and Rizzo scoring a goal and adding two assists. The next night, it was sophomore Carter Savoie lighting up the scoresheet with a goal and two assists. 

And let me tell you something: Savoie’s goal was a snipe. 

Denver is quickly emerging as one of the strongest NCHC teams, which is an extremely difficult thing to do this season. The Pioneers are tied with Michigan as the No. 2 ranked team in PairWise

They’ll look to remain one of the top teams in the country with a home-and-home against Colorado College next weekend. 

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

After having its series with Minnesota Duluth postponed the previous weekend, St. Cloud State had another series postponed this past weekend. This one was supposed to be against Denver. 

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The Huskies haven’t played since Jan. 1. They’ll be itching to get back to the ice when they host Miami (Ohio) next weekend. 

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

Western Michigan and St. Cloud State have two things in common. For one, they’re both top teams in the NCHC. The second one isn’t as fun: They both had series postponed this past weekend. The Broncos were supposed to travel to Colorado Springs to take on Colorado College. 

Western Michigan is slated to host North Dakota this weekend for a massive NCHC matchup. 

7. Cornell (12-3-1) | Prev: 7 

The Big Red stay put in this week’s rankings. While their initial matchup with Brown on Saturday was postponed, they faced Yale instead, winning 3-0. 

Cornell got goals from juniors Jack Malone and Ben Tupker and sophomore Kyle Penney. Goalie Ian Shane stopped all 18 shots he faced en route to the shutout. It was a nice follow-up win to its sweep of North Dakota the previous weekend. 

Another big test awaits next weekend when the Big Red take on Princeton and then No. 2 Quinnipiac. That game against Quinnipiac will be must-watch. 

8. UMass Lowell (13-3-3) | Prev: NR 

The River Hawks making the Power 10 has been a long time coming. 

After a tough home-and-home with then-No. 14 UMass in early December, UMass Lowell rebounded well, winning five in a row, most recently sweeping Maine this past weekend with scores of 5-3 and 4-3. 

While the River Hawks get scoring from everywhere (eight different players have double-digit points), the MVP of this group is senior netminder Owen Savory. 

Savory is top five in the nation in goals against average (1.52) and ranks third in save percentage (.940). He’s been consistently great all season and is a huge part as to why UMass Lowell is ninth in PairWise

Next up is a home-and-home with Merrimack. 

9. Minnesota Duluth (12-8-2) | Prev: 8 

The Bulldogs were back in action this past weekend against Miami (Ohio). They won the first game, 4-1, and tied the second, 2-2. 

In the win, Minnesota Duluth got goals from the usual suspects: sophomore forward Blake Biondi, graduate student forward Casey Gilling, fifth-year forward Koby Bender and junior Quinn Olson. Star goalie Ryan Fanti made 21 stops on 22 shots for the win. 

The scoring didn’t come as easy in the tie. 

Despite putting 52 shots on goal, RedHawks goalie Ludvig Persson stopped a season-high 50 shots, holding the Bulldogs to only two goals. Miami (OH) eventually won in the shootout, securing the extra point. 

Up next on the schedule is a road series at Omaha. 

10. North Dakota (13-8-0) | Prev: 10 

The Fighting Hawks didn’t play this past weekend, as their series with Omaha was postponed. 

They’ll look to get back on track this weekend in a series with Western Michigan. If North Dakota can have a better series than the Broncos, it’ll shoot back up these rankings. 

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