COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - After securing the final win of the college hockey season over the weekend, the back-to-back national champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs top both final 2018-19 national polls, released on Monday.
In the final USCHO.com Poll, the Bulldogs lead four fellow National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams, including Denver, who also made the Frozen Four. The five ranked NCHC teams in the USCHO Poll led all conferences, including three teams in the top five of both national polls.
UMD (29-11-2) lands at the No. 1 spot in the USCHO.com Poll with 1000 points and a unanimous 50 first-place votes, after entering 2018-19 as the preseason No. 1 team in the country as well. The last time the Bulldogs held the top spot of the USCHO.com Poll was back on Nov. 12, 2018, when they held the spot for three consecutive weeks. UMD also notched the top rank in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll with 510 points and another unanimous 34 first-place votes. Perfect in the playoff season, UMD entered the NCAA Tournament coming off its second NCHC Frozen Faceoff Championship. The Bulldogs bypassed Bowling Green and Quinnipiac to claim the Midwest Region Championship and move on to the Frozen Four in Buffalo, N.Y. The Bulldogs sacked Providence in the semifinal round, 4-1, to advance to their third straight national championship game where they'd face long-time top contender in the national polls, Massachusetts. The Bulldogs ultimately sent one puck to the back of the net in each period of the championship game to silence the Minutemen, 3-0, and claim a second consecutive title. With their second win in as many years, the Bulldogs extended the NCHC’s reign of national championship teams to four straight years.
Denver (24-12-5) closes out the 2018-19 season at No. 3 in both national polls. In the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, the Pioneers received 435 points. DU moved up three spots from its previous rank of No. 6 in the USCHO.com Poll with 868 points. The Pioneers attended their 17th Frozen Four in program history and third Frozen Four in the last four seasons after defeating both Ohio State and American International College (AIC) in the West Regionals. In the Frozen Four last Thursday, Denver erased a two-goal third-period deficit against No. 2 UMass, before ultimately seeing its season end in overtime, 4-3.
St. Cloud State (30-6-3) slid in the final USCHO.com Poll from No. 1 to No. 5 with 813 points. After holding the top spot for the majority of the season, SCSU also moved to No. 5 with 368 points in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll. The Huskies entered the NCAA Tournament as the top overall seed, but were upset in the opening round by AIC, 2-1. Despite an unexpected tournament exit, 2018-19 proved to be successful for the Huskies, who went undefeated at home during the season and secured the NCHC regular-season title for the second consecutive season.
In the USCHO.com Poll, Western Michigan (21-15-1) fell one spot to No. 18 with 162 points. The Broncos played their final games of the season back in March at home against Colorado College as part of the NCHC Quarterfinals. Due to weather and travel issues, the best-of-three series started on Saturday night and went to a decisive third game on Monday night, March 18, when the Broncos saw their season end at the hands of CC with a 3-2 loss.
After a season spent in and out of the polls, North Dakota (18-17-2) tied with Minnesota at No. 20 in the last USCHO.com Poll of the year with 42 points. The Fighting Hawks played their final series of the season at Denver during the NCHC Quarterfinals in what was also the first time since the 2001-02 season that UND did not host the first round of conference playoffs. DU advanced to the Frozen Faceoff by sweeping UND to conclude the Fighting Hawks 2018-19 season.
Colorado College (17-20-4) received three votes in the USCHO.com Poll and would be No. 24 if the rankings continued. The Tigers treated their fans to an exciting final few weeks of the season. First stop, CC defeated in-state rival Denver in the last weekend of the regular season to win the Gold Pan trophy for the first time since 2014. Two weeks later, CC traveled to then-No. 12 WMU for the NCHC Quarterfinals and became the conference’s Cinderella story as the Tigers advanced to the Frozen Faceoff for the first time. CC eventually took fourth place in the tournament after a 5-2 loss to SCSU and a 6-1 loss to DU in the third-place game.
This marks the fourth straight season an NCHC team has finished atop the national polls. To see the complete polls, click here.
The 2019-20 NCHC conference schedule will be released on Wednesday, April 17.