COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With a light schedule over the holiday break, there were minimal changes in the national polls released on Monday, though two National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams inched up the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll as three NCHC teams are now ranked in the top 10 of both polls. Four NCHC teams continue to be ranked in the USCHO.com Poll, with North Dakota remaining at No. 1 in both national polls for the second straight week. An NCHC team has now been ranked No. 1 in the polls in eight of 13 weeks this season.
North Dakota (14-1-2) remained at No. 1 but gained first-place votes in both polls after a 3-1 exhibition win over the U.S. Under-18 Team last Saturday in its only action over the holiday break. The Fighting Hawks were a near unanimous No. 1 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, collecting 33-of-34 first-place votes for 506 of a possible 510 points. In the USCHO.com Poll, UND earned 44-of-50 first-place votes and racked up 992 points, ranking ahead of No. 2 Cornell in both polls. North Dakota returns to NCAA action this weekend, looking to extend its 13-game unbeaten streak with a home series against Alabama-Huntsville at The Ralph.
Despite being idle since sweeping Colorado College on Dec. 13-14, Denver (11-4-3) went in opposite directions in the national polls on Monday. DU gained a spot in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll, rising from sixth to No. 5 with 351 points, sitting between No. 4 Boston College and No. 6 Clarkson. In the USCHO Poll, the Pioneers slipped a spot from No. 6 to No. 7 with 715 points, ranking between No. 6 Ohio State and No. 8 Penn State. Denver is back in action this weekend, hosting No. 9/9 Massachusetts in a top-10 series, which is a rematch from last year’s Frozen Four.
The final ranked team in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll is Minnesota Duluth (11-6-1), which, like DU, moved up a spot after sweeping Merrimack Sunday and Monday and now ranks in the top 10. UMD jumped from 11th to No. 10 with 191 points to sit between UMass and No. 11 Bowling Green. In the USCHO Poll, the Bulldogs held steady at No. 10 with 548 points, resting between the same teams. Minnesota Duluth is idle this coming weekend after playing at Merrimack today and resumes NCHC action on Jan. 10-11 against No. 19 Western Michigan.
Speaking of the Broncos, Western Michigan (7-7-2) held its spot in the USCHO.com Poll this week at No. 19 after last playing on Dec. 6-7, when they were swept by top-ranked North Dakota. The Broncos earned 86 points in the poll and rank between No. 18 Michigan State and No. 20 Army. WMU ends a 27-day layoff on Friday, Jan. 3 at No. 15 Notre Dame, while the top-20 foes finish their series in Kalamazoo on Sunday, Jan. 5.
After earning a split with then-No. 14/16 Arizona State back on Dec. 21-22, Omaha (8-8-2) resumed receiving votes this week after getting none in the Dec. 16 USCHO Poll. The Mavericks picked up two points in the USCHO Poll this week, which would rank them tied for 28th if the 20-team poll continued. Omaha heads east for two games at Maine this weekend.
Four NCHC teams face non-conference foes this weekend, Jan. 3-4, including the top-10 showdown between UMass and Denver and the top-20 tilt between Notre Dame and WMU. The DU series and the UAH at UND series are both available on NCHC.tv, while Friday’s WMU game can be seen on TV on NBC Sports Network and WMU’s Sunday finale with Notre Dame is on NCHC.tv.