COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With the 2019-20 season cut short, the final USCHO.com Poll was released Monday with four National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams landing in the top-20 rankings. NCHC teams made up half of the top six in the poll, led by No. 2 North Dakota, along with No. 5 Minnesota Duluth and No. 6 Denver. Western Michigan finished the season 16th in the poll.
The four ranked NCHC teams in the USCHO Poll tie with the Big Ten for the second-most ranked teams from one conference. Only Hockey East’s five teams were more. In addition, North Dakota finished first in the Pairwise Rankings, which are used to determine the NCAA Tournament field, as the Fighting Hawks would have been the overall No. 1 seed were there an NCAA Tournament this year.
North Dakota (26-5-4) finished with the second-most wins in college hockey, while earning the Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions. UND collected 16 of 50 first-place votes and 943 points total, finishing 11 points back of No. 1 Cornell, which received 25 first-place votes. The Fighting Hawks moved up a spot from the last poll on March 9, after starting the season ranked 18th in the USCHO.com Preseason Poll.
Two-time defending national champion Minnesota Duluth (22-10-2), who didn’t get a chance to defend its title this season, dropped one spot to fifth in the final USCHO Poll, but still picked up one first-place vote. The Bulldogs, who finished fourth in the Pairwise, totaled 811 points in the USCHO Poll, slipping just behind No. 4 Boston College. Minnesota Duluth was the No. 2 seed in the NCHC Tournament and slated to face Miami before it was cancelled.
Denver (21-9-6) held steady at sixth in the final USCHO Poll, right behind UMD. The Pioneers collected 739 points in the poll, 55 points ahead of No. 7 Clarkson. Denver finished one spot higher in the Pairwise Rankings at fifth, ahead of Boston College, who DU swept early in the season. The Pioneers opened the season ranked second in the USCHO Poll and were slated to host Omaha in the NCHC Tournament as the No. 3 seed when the season was halted.
Western Michigan (18-13-5) remained at 16th in the final USCHO Poll with 229 points. The Broncos, who placed fourth in the NCHC, ranked between No. 15 Maine and No. 17 Michigan, with whom WMU split a home-and-home series in October. Western Michigan, which opened the season ranked 14th in the USCHO.com Poll, finished the season 18th in Pairwise. The Broncos would have hosted St. Cloud State to open the NCHC Tournament. The Huskies (13-15-6), who started the year ranked sixth in the USCHO Poll, received one vote in the final USCHO.com Poll and finished 24th in the Pairwise.
In the final 15-team USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, released on March 9, UND finished second, Minnesota Duluth was fifth and Denver was No. 6, matching the USCHO Poll.
Throughout the 2019-20 season, an NCHC team was ranked No. 1 in the USCHO Poll in 13 of 24 polls, with Minnesota Duluth, Denver and North Dakota each holding the top spot multiple weeks.