December 17, 2012
St. Cloud State sits in first place at the Holiday break
MADISON, Wis. – The 12 member teams of the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association are now in the midst of a nearly two-week break from on-ice competition and six have reached the halfway point of their respective 28-game conference schedules.
Heading into the break, St. Cloud State (11-7-0, 9-5-0 WCHA) has climbed into sole possession of first place in the regular season championship and MacNaughton Cup race, with the No. 16-ranked Huskies just posting a two-game sweep of visiting Colorado College on Dec. 14-15 to up their point total to 18. Just a point back of SCSU with 17 points each are No. 7/8-ranked North Dakota (10-5-3, 7-2-3 WCHA) and No. 14/15-ranked Denver (9-6-3, 7-4-3 WCHA), with UND having two games in hand on both the Huskies and the Pioneers. No. 18-ranked Minnesota State (10-6-2, 8-6-0 WCHA) is up to fourth at 16 points in 14 games, and No. 4-ranked Minnesota (11-3-3, 6-3-3 WCHA) and No. 12/13-ranked Nebraska Omaha (11-6-1, 7-4-1 WCHA) share fifth place with 15 points each, both with 12 league games played. Minnesota Duluth (7-8-3, 5-6-3 WCHA) has moved into seventh place at the holidays with 13 points, and Colorado College (8-10-2, 5-6-1 WCHA) and Bemidji State (5-8-3, 4-7-3 WCHA) are tied for eighth with 11 points apiece, with the Tigers having two games in hand. Sharing10th place with nine points each are Wisconsin (4-7-5, 2-5-5 WCHA) and Michigan Tech (4-10-3, 3-8-3 WCHA), with the Badgers having played 12 league games, and Alaska Anchorage (3-9-4, 1-8-3 WCHA) is 12th with five points in 12 games.
Seven teams enter the break with some noteworthy momentum, with Wisconsin sporting a six-game unbeaten streak overall at 3-0-3, North Dakota standing unbeaten over the last five at 4-0-1, St. Cloud State sporting three consecutive victories and Bemidji State going 2-0-1 over the last three contests. Minnesota State stands 7-1-0 over the last eight games, Minnesota Duluth is 4-1-1 over the last six and Nebraska Omaha is 9-3-0 over the last 12.
In five WCHA series contested last weekend, Dec. 14-15, St. Cloud State, North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth all banked four points with sweeps. The Huskies posted 5-3 and 3-1 victories over visiting Colorado College, UND won by 6-1 and 4-1 margins on the road at Michigan Tech, and the Bulldogs prevailed by 5-1 and 2-1 scores at Alaska Anchorage. Bemidji State enjoyed success at home against Denver, following up a 1-1 (ot) draw last Friday with a 5-1 triumph last Saturday to log three points while Minnesota State split on the road at Nebraska Omaha, winning their seventh straight game last Friday by a 6-3 count before falling 5-1 last Saturday.
Through the first 78 games of the 168-game conference schedule, the "home-ice advantage" continues to be almost anything but, with home teams logging just a .513 winning percentage and 33-31-14 record in WCHA games.
In non-conference play last week, Wisconsin won back-to-back home games against independent Alabama-Huntsville by a 5-0 margin last Thursday and a 4-1 verdict last Friday. After 52 non-conference games through Dec. 17, WCHA-member teams stand 28-20-4 against other Div. 1 teams for a .577 winning percentage. League-member teams are 5-0-1 (.917) vs the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA), 8-11-0 (.421) against the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), 3-4-1 (.438) vs ECAC Hockey (ECACH), 5-5-1 (.500) vs the Hockey East Association (HEA), and 7-0-1 (.917) vs independents. Minnesota owns the best non-conference record so far at a perfect 5-0-0. Other non-conference records by team are: Alaska Anchorage (2-1-1), Bemidji State (1-1-0), Colorado College (3-4-1), Denver (2-2-0), Michigan Tech (1-2-0), Minnesota Duluth (2-2-0), Minnesota State (2-0-2), Nebraska Omaha (4-2-0), North Dakota (3-3-0), St. Cloud State (2-2-0), and Wisconsin (2-2-0).
The on-ice schedule will resume on Thursday, Dec. 27 when St. Cloud State entertains ECAC Hockey-member Rensselaer in the first of a two-game non-conference set, with game two on Friday, Dec. 28.
Also that Friday, Minnesota Duluth will take on Maine of the Hockey East Association on day one of the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla.
On Saturday, Dec. 29, the Bulldogs will face either Ferris State of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association or Cornell of ECAC Hockey at the Florida College Classic, Minnesota State will skate against Brown (ECAC Hockey) at the UConn Hockey Classic, Michigan Tech will take on CCHA-member Michigan at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit, Minnesota will play Air Force of the Atlantic Hockey Association in the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, Denver will host Boston University (HEA) in the Hall of Fame Game at Magness Arena and Nebraska Omaha will play at Quinnipiac (ECAC Hockey).
The schedule for Sunday, Dec. 30 will find Nebraska Omaha at Quinnipiac, Michigan Tech taking on either Western Michigan (CCHA) or Michigan State (CCHA) in the Great Lakes Invitational, Bemidji State facing off against Massachusetts (HEA) in the Ledyard Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H., Minnesota State going up against American International (AHA) or Connecticut (AHA) in the UConn Hockey Classic, and Minnesota hosting Boston College (HEA) at the Mariucci Classic.
Then on Monday, Dec. 31, Bemidji State will take on either New Hampshire (HEA) or Dartmouth (ECAC Hockey) on day two of the Ledyard Bank Classic.
Conference play will resume the weekend of Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4-5, when Nebraska Omaha hosts Colorado College and Alaska Anchorage entertains Wisconsin. In non-conference match ups that weekend, Bemidji State hosts Western Michigan, St. Cloud State welcomes Northern Michigan, Minnesota State entertains Providence College, North Dakota hosts Holy Cross, and Denver hosts Cornell.
In this week's USCHO.com Division 1 Men's College Hockey Poll issued Dec. 17, the WCHA has six teams among the top 20. Minnesota leads the way at No. 4, North Dakota is No. 7, Nebraska Omaha is No. 12, Denver is No. 14, St. Cloud State is No. 16 and Minnesota State is No. 18. Also receiving votes from the WCHA was Colorado College.
And in the latest USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Division 1 Men's College Hockey Poll issued for Dec. 17, Minnesota is No. 4, North Dakota is No. 8, Nebraska Omaha is No. 13, and Denver is No. 15. Both St. Cloud State and Minnesota State also received votes.
Upcoming in the WCHA
Games for Thursday, December 27: Rensselaer at St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT.
Games for Friday, December 28 * Minnesota Duluth vs Maine (NC), 7:30 pm ET; Rensselaer at St. Cloud State (NC), 7:07 pm CT. * Florida College Classic (Estero, FL)
Games for Saturday, December 29: Nebraska Omaha at Quinnipiac (NC), 12:00 pm ET; * Ferris State/Cornell vs Minnesota Duluth (NC), 4:00/7:30 pm ET; # Brown vs Minnesota State (NC), 4:05 pm ET; & Michigan vs Michigan Tech (NC), 7:35 pm ET; % Air Force at Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT; + Boston University at Denver (NC), 7:07 pm MT. * Florida College Classic (Estero, FL); # UConn Hockey Classic (Storrs, CT); & Great Lakes Invitational (Detroit, MI); % Mariucci Classic; + Hall of Fame Game
Games for Sunday, December 30: Nebraska Omaha at Quinnipiac (NC), 12:00 pm ET; * Western Michigan/Michigan State vs Michigan Tech (NC), 3:35/7:35 pm ET; # Bemidji State vs Massachusetts (NC), 4:00 pm ET; & American Int'l/Connecticut vs Minnesota State (NC), 4:05/7:15 pm ET; % Boston College at Minnesota (NC), 7:07 pm CT. * Great Lakes Invitational (Detroit, MI); # Ledyard Bank Classic (Hanover, NH); & UConn Hockey Classic (Storrs, CT); % Mariucci Classic
Games for Monday, December 31: * New Hamphire/Dartmouth vs Bemidji State (NC), 4:00/7:00 pm ET. * Ledyard Bank Classic (Hanover, NH)
Last Week in the WCHA
Results of Thursday, December 13: Alabama-Huntsville 0 at Wisconsin 5 (NC).
Results of Friday, December 14: North Dakota 6 at Michigan Tech 1 (WCHA); Alabama-Huntsville 1 at Wisconsin 4 (NC); Colorado College 3 at St. Cloud State 5 (WCHA); Denver 1 at Bemidji State 1 ot (WCHA); Minnesota State 6 at Nebraska Omaha 3 (WCHA); Minnesota Duluth 5 at Alaska Anchorage 1 (WCHA).
Results of Saturday, December 15: North Dakota 4 at Michigan Tech 1 (WCHA); Colorado College 1 at St. Cloud State 3 (WCHA); Denver 1 at Bemidji State 5 (WCHA); Minnesota State 1 at Nebraska Omaha 5 (WCHA); Minnesota Duluth 2 at Alaska Anchorage 1 (WCHA).