2011-2012 WCHA Power Rankings & Tiers: Week 5

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2011-2012 WCHA Power Rankings & Tiers: Week 5


Things are starting to settle in the WCHA after five weeks of hockey action. Let's see who's up and who's down:

WCHA Results, Week 5:

Alaska-Anchorage - Idle
Bemidji State - Win, Loss @ Lake Superior State
Colorado College - Loss, Win @ Nebraska-Omaha
Denver - Tie, Loss vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan Tech - Win, Loss vs. Minnesota State
Minnesota - Win, Win vs. North Dakota
Minnesota-Duluth - Tie, Win @ Denver
Minnesota State - Loss, Win @ Michigan Tech
Nebraska Omaha - Win, Loss vs. Colorado College
North Dakota - Loss, Loss @ Minnesota
St. Cloud State - Win, Tie vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin - Loss, Tie @ St. Cloud State

Power Rankings:

1. Colorado College (No Change)
Last Ranking: #1
Last Week: Road Split vs. (5) Nebraska-Omaha
5-1-0 Overall, 3-1-0 WCHA
Next Week: No Game Friday, @ (3) Denver Saturday

Yes, I am aware that Minnesota jumped up to number one in the polls this week. Yes, I am aware that the Gophers are at the top of the WCHA standings. However, this ranking is a barometer of where I think teams will end up at the end of the season not just in the league but on the national scene, and I still think Colorado College is the team to beat in the WCHA.

2. Minnesota (No Change)
Last Ranking: #2
Last Week: Home Sweep vs. (6) North Dakota
9-1-0 Overall, 6-0-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ Wisconsin

The Gophers continued their perfect start to the WCHA season with a sweep of the hated North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Minnesota is still number two in the power rankings, but they're breathing down Colorado College's neck. The early returns make me a believer in this team - but an injury to a key player such as Kent Patterson, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau or Nate Schmidt could really hamper the Gophers' chances at postseason glory.

3. Denver University (No Change)
Last Ranking: #3
Last Week: Home Tie & Loss vs. (4) Minnesota-Duluth
3-3-2 Overall, 2-2-2 WCHA
Next Week: No Game Friday, vs. (1) Colorado College Saturday

Another surprising weekend for Denver, as they only manage to take one point at home against Minnesota-Duluth. Duluth is a good team, but so is Denver, and a one point weekend at home is not something for this team to be proud of. Denver needs to hang in there until goaltender Sam Brittain can return from his torn ACL - he's a game-changer.

4. Minnesota-Duluth (No Change)
Last Ranking: #4
Last Week: Road Tie & Win vs. (3) Denver
5-3-2 Overall, 3-2-1 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (10) Alaska-Anchorage

Duluth is proving me wrong so far this season. I had them pegged as a middle-of-the-pack WCHA squad this year with all the defections they sustained from their NCAA Championship team, but they keep beating quality opponents. Taking three points on the road against the number three team in this power ranking Denver might not move them past the Pioneers yet, but it does move them up a tier (see below).

5. Nebraska-Omaha (No Change)
Last Ranking: #5
Last Week: Home Split vs. (1) Colorado College
5-5-0 Overall, 4-2-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ (11) Bemidji State

UNO split at home last weekend against the number one ranked (in this ranking) Colorado College. Thus far it doesn't look like the Mavericks are going to light the world on fire, but they're a solid team that will win a lot of games against other good teams this year.

6. North Dakota (No Change)
Last Ranking: #6
Last Week: Swept on the Road @ (2) Minnesota
3-6-1 Overall, 1-5-0 WCHA
Next Week: Idle

Even though the Sioux were swept on the road at Minnesota last weekend, I still like this team better than the six below it. Aaron Dell is solid between the pipes and kept his team in both the games against the Gophers over the weekend. If North Dakota wants to earn home ice in the WCHA they'll need to find some secondary scoring - their top line of Danny Kristo, Brock Nelson and Mario Lamoureux is about their only scoring threat. A healthy Rocco Grimaldi will go a long way towards this team's success.

7. Wisconsin (No Change)
Last Ranking: #7
Last Week: Road Loss & Tie vs. (8) St. Cloud State
4-5-1 Overall, 3-4-1 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (2) Minnesota

Just when Wisconsin's goalie situation was settling down, St. Cloud hung a seven-spot on Landon Peterson during Friday's beatdown. Backup Joel Rumpel gave up three goals in an overtime tie on Saturday. Will we see another goalie position battle in Madison right after we thought it had been settled?

8. St. Cloud State (No Change)
Last Ranking: #8
Last Week: Home Win & Tie vs. (7) Wisconsin
4-4-2 Overall, 2-1-1 WCHA
Next Week: @ (12) Minnesota State

St. Cloud again asserted itself against a decent team last weekend, taking three points from Wisconsin at home. It appears that the Huskies are a home ice contender this season in the league. However, they'll need to overcome a big loss they suffered last weekend, as senior Drew LeBlanc broke his leg and is likely out for the remainder of the season. That is a big loss for the team and the reason they did not jump past Wisconsin in the rankings this week.

9. Michigan Tech (No Change)
Last Ranking: #9
Last Week: Home Split vs. (12) Minnesota State
6-3-1 Overall, 4-3-1 WCHA
Next Week: Idle

Tech's first home loss came from an unlikely source in the battered and bruised Minnesota State Mavericks. What a turnaround for this program, though, to think that there's disappointment at only splitting in a WCHA series.

10. Alaska-Anchorage (UP 1)
Last Ranking: #11
Last Week: Idle
3-4-1 Overall, 0-4-0 WCHA
Next Week: @ (4) Minnesota-Duluth

The Seawolves did not play last weekend and face a tough UMD team next weekend. A split would prove they're playing for keeps this year in the WCHA, but a sweep would leave them at 0-6-0 to start the season in the league.

11. Bemidji State (DOWN 1)
Last Ranking: #10
Last Week: Split @ Lake Superior State
4-6-0 Overall, 2-4-0 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (5) Nebraska-Omaha

Bemidji is a really good number 11 team in the WCHA. With the exception of the 1 vs 12 playoff series, each WCHA first round contest should be a tough one.

12. Minnesota State - Mankato (No Change)
Last Ranking: #12
Last Week: Split @ (9) Michigan Tech
2-6-0 Overall, 1-3-0 WCHA
Next Week: vs. (8) St. Cloud State

Maybe Minnesota State isn't as dead in the water as earlier predicted. The Mavericks split with a surprisingly tough Michigan Tech team in Houghton last weekend. They take on a surging but injury ridden St. Cloud State next weekend.

Team Tiers:

Last Week

Tier 1 - Colorado College
Tier 2 - Minnesota, Denver
Tier 3 - No Teams
Tier 4 - Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha
Tier 5 - North Dakota, Wisconsin
Tier 6 - St. Cloud State, Michigan Tech
Tier 7 - Bemidji State, Alaska-Anchorage
Tier 8 - Minnesota State

This Week

Tier 1 - Colorado College, Minnesota
Tier 2 - Denver
Tier 3 - Minnesota-Duluth
Tier 4 - Nebraska-Omaha
Tier 5 - North Dakota, Wisconsin, St. Cloud State
Tier 6 - Michigan Tech, Alaska-Anchorage
Tier 7 - Bemidji State
Tier 8 - Minnesota State
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