COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With the puck officially dropped on the 2017-18 season last weekend, the second USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll was released on Monday and four National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) teams remain ranked. There was little movement in the poll after NCHC teams only played exhibitions, with Denver unanimously remaining the No. 1 team. The USCHO.com Poll was not released Monday and will resume next Monday, Oct. 9.
The Pioneers received all 34 first-place votes to again sit atop the poll, while St. Cloud State and North Dakota both stayed put in the top 10. Minnesota Duluth is the fourth NCHC team ranked, coming in at No. 12. The NCHC’s four ranked teams tie for the most from one conference, along with the Big Ten and Hockey East. ECAC Hockey placed two teams in the poll while the WCHA had one representative in the 15-team poll.
Denver, which is also No. 1 in the Preseason USCHO Poll, totaled 510 points in the USA Hockey Magazine poll and is 84 points ahead of No. 2 Boston University this week. The Pioneers topped Lethbridge in their exhibition opener on Sunday, 3-1. Denver is off this weekend before opening the regular season at No. 8 Notre Dame Oct. 13-14.
St. Cloud State, which sits ninth in the USCHO Poll, held steady at No. 6 in the USA Hockey Magazine poll with 302 points. The Huskies, who are coming off an 8-0 shutout of Regina in their exhibition opener on Saturday, rank 36 points behind No. 5 Providence and 22 points clear of fellow NCHC foe North Dakota at No. 7. SCSU starts the regular season at No. 15 Minnesota State on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Sitting right behind SCSU is North Dakota, which remained at No. 7 in this week’s USA Hockey Magazine Poll with 280 points. The Fighting Hawks, who are also No. 7 in the USCHO Poll, downed Manitoba, 6-2, in exhibition action last Saturday. UND is 22 points behind the Huskies and 17 points clear of No. 8 Notre Dame. North Dakota begins the regular season at Alaska Anchorage this weekend.
The final ranked NCHC team is Minnesota Duluth, which slipped one spot to No. 12 this week. The Bulldogs, who are No. 6 in the USCHO Poll, racked up 130 points in the USA Hockey Magazine Poll to sit between No. 11 Penn State and No. 13 Northeastern. UMD fell in its exhibition opener on Saturday to Alberta, dropping a 4-3 decision. The Bulldogs look to bounce back when they open the regular season by hosting the Ice Breaker Tournament this weekend. UMD faces rival No. 3 Minnesota on Friday with Union and Michigan Tech the other two participants.
Two other NCHC teams are receiving votes in the poll in Miami and Western Michigan. The RedHawks picked up 14 points while Western Michigan, which defeated Wilfrid Laurier, 8-2, in exhibition play Saturday, received seven points. Miami and WMU would rank 21st and 22nd, respectively, if the 15-team poll extended. The RedHawks host No. 5 Providence this weekend while the Broncos have a home-and-home series with Ferris State.
Seven of eight NCHC teams are in action this weekend with five teams opening the regular season on Friday and Omaha hosting its exhibition opener. On Saturday, St. Cloud State makes its regular-season debut while Colorado College, WMU, Miami, UND and UMD all finish their weekend series or tournament. Four of Friday’s games are available on NCHC.tv while two games Saturday can be seen on NCHC.tv. To watch over 140 NCHC games throughout the season, sign up for NCHC.tv and get access to games anytime, anywhere.