COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After capturing the NCAA Midwest Regional title and earning a spot in the Frozen Four, North Dakota shot up the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, which was released Monday (March 31), while all three National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams that made the NCAA Tournament will finish the year ranked. USCHO.com did not release a poll Monday, while both final national polls will be unveiled Monday, April 14 after the Frozen Four is complete.
The three ranked NCHC teams in the poll tie for the second-most by any conference, along with the ECAC. Hockey East led all conferences with five ranked teams, while the Big Ten and the WCHA each placed two teams in the poll.
North Dakota (25-13-3) became the highest ranked NCHC team after defeating Big Ten rival then No. 4 Wisconsin in the NCAA first round before outlasting WCHA foe No. 6 Ferris State in double overtime to capture the regional championship and advance to the Frozen Four. UND climbed eight spots, moving from 13th up to No. 5 in the poll with 360 points, just behind No. 4 UMass Lowell and one spot ahead of Ferris State. The No. 5 ranking is UND’s best this season in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, topping its No. 6 ranking from the week 4 poll (Oct. 28). After beating two top-six teams, North Dakota next faces No. 1 Minnesota in the Frozen Four on Thursday, April 10 in a border battle of old WCHA rivals.
The team that had been the highest-ranked NCHC team for much of the season, St. Cloud State (22-11-5), rose one spot from eighth to No. 7, after defeating then No. 9 Notre Dame in the NCAA first round Saturday before being eliminated by Minnesota Sunday. The Huskies garnered 286 points to sit just behind Ferris State and three points ahead of No. 8 Wisconsin. SCSU, which won the NCHC regular-season crown, spent all 25 weeks of the season ranked in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll and finished in the top 10 for the second straight year after making last year’s Frozen Four and finishing ranked fourth.
The third NCHC team ranked this week was Denver (20-16-6), which returned to the poll for the first time since Feb. 3 (at No. 15) and just the third time all season (ranked No. 12 on Oct. 14). The Pioneers cracked the poll this week at No. 15 with 28 points, just behind No. 14 Vermont while edging out Cornell for the final spot in the rankings. DU, which captured the NCHC Tournament and Frozen Faceoff title, was defeated by No. 3 Boston College in the NCAA first round on Saturday, ending the Pioneers’ season. Denver has finished the season in the top 15 of the USA Hockey Magazine Poll each of the last seven seasons dating back to 2007 and would make it eight straight years this season.
Minnesota remained the No. 1 team in the poll after clinching its spot in the Frozen Four, collecting 12 first-place votes, while Union stayed put at No. 2, despite 19 first-place votes, after also booking its ticket to the Frozen Four. Boston College remained at No. 3 after locking up a spot in the Frozen Four on Sunday, while North Dakota rounds out the Frozen Four field.
To see both the complete USCHO.com Poll (from last week) and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, click here.