COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - For the first time this season, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks landed in the top 3 of both national polls, released on Monday. Five National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams remain ranked in Week 8 of the USCHO.com Poll to tie the Big Ten and Hockey East for most teams ranked from one conference. Five NCHC teams are ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll.
North Dakota (10-1-2) broke into the top 3 of the USCHO.com Poll in week 8, jumping from No. 5 to No. 3 with 890 points. The Fighting Hawks made the same surge in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, rising three spots to take the No. 3 rank with 419 points. UND swept St. Cloud State last weekend to push its unbeaten streak to an NCAA-best nine games and travels to former WCHA rival Minnesota for a Thanksgiving showdown on Nov. 28-29.
Denver (9-3-2) held its rank at No. 4 with 770 points in the USCHO.com Poll. The Pioneers slipped one spot to No. 5 in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll with 339 points. DU faced its third ranked opponent in as many weeks while hosting then-No. 20 Western Michigan last weekend. DU lost the first game but came back with a 6-1 win on Saturday night over the Broncos for its first NCHC win of the season. The Pioneers enjoy a bye over the upcoming holiday weekend before traveling to Arizona State in two weeks.
In the USCHO.com Poll, Minnesota Duluth (7-4-1) boosted its ranking one spot to No. 8 with 665 points. The Bulldogs advanced one spot in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, as well, to No. 9 with 265 points. UMD collected its first home sweep of the season last weekend against Colorado College. On Saturday night, senior goaltender Hunter Shepard notched his 17th career shutout to extend a conference record. The Bulldogs host in-state rival No. 1/1 Minnesota State (10-1-1) in a top-10 showdown this weekend, Nov. 29-30.
Western Michigan (7-5-2) made the most significant leap of NCHC teams in the USCHO Poll, moving up three places from its No. 20 spot last week to No. 17 with 195 points. WMU received votes in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll and would be No. 19 with 4 points if the 15-team rankings continued. The Broncos stifled Denver’s scoring last Friday to earn a 2-1 win to start the series, before settling for a weekend split. The Broncos have a bye for the Thanksgiving weekend and pick up NCHC play against UND on Dec. 6-7 in Kalamazoo.
Omaha (6-4-2) remained consistent in Week 8 at No. 18 with 100 points. The Mavericks continued to get a nod from USA Hockey Magazine Poll voters who allotted nine points to Omaha. They would be No. 18 if the rankings continued. Omaha hosted Miami last weekend and concluded its November schedule with a tie and a loss. In two weeks, Omaha continues its conference schedule against UMD.
Three NCHC teams are in action over the holiday weekend, with Miami and North Dakota on the road at non-conference opponents. The top-10 tilt between No. 1/1 Minnesota State at No. 8/9 Minnesota Duluth is the sole series to air on NCHC.tv this weekend.