Now ten games into the season, only a few teams have risen to the top of college hockey's elite. It seems like this will be one of the most interesting campaigns to watch in some time, as the parody within the conferences will lead to not only exciting regular season games and conference tournaments, but also a potentially great NCAA Tournament and Frozen Four in the spring.
USCHO Top 20 – As of Nov. 6th
1. St. Cloud State (50) – 7-0-0
2. North Dakota – 6-2-2
3. Denver – 4-2-2
4. Minnesota – 7-3-0
5. Harvard – 2-1-0
6. Notre Dame – 6-3-1
7. Wisconsin – 6-4-1
8. Providence – 5-3-0
9. New Hampshire – 6-1-1
10. Minnesota State – 6-3-0
11. Clarkson – 6-3-1
12. Minnesota Duluth – 4-4-2
13. Northeastern – 5-2-1
14. Cornell – 4-0-0
15. Boston University – 4-5-1
16. Quinnipiac – 3-3-1
17. Ohio State – 5-3-2
18. Western Michigan – 5-3-1
19. Penn State – 5-5-0
20. Northern Michigan – 5-3-0
Read more: http://www.uscho.com/rankings/d-i-mens-poll/
St. Cloud State's early season unbeaten run
The NCHC is stacked this season with elite teams as St. Cloud State, North Dakota and Denver occupy spots one, two and three in the USCHO Top 20 Poll. In their seven wins this season, the Huskies have scored 33 goals and have given up just 13, playing a winning brand of hockey under head coach Bob Motzko. St. Cloud has received balanced scoring from both their forwards and defense groups, led by Montreal first rounder Ryan Poehling (3G, 7A) and junior blueliner Jimmy Schuldt, who leads all NCAA rearguards in scoring with 12 points in seven games.
Poehling's development will be something to watch this season. When he was drafted, there was talk about him slipping in the first round due to his capped offensive potential. Scouts believed he had one of the highest floors in the draft, but that he may trend more towards a third line shutdown-type forward in the future. Last season Poehling posted 13 points in 35 games as a freshman. He is already pushing that total through seven games with added responsibilty and more favorable deployment as a sophomore.
North Dakota bouncing back after a disappointing 2016-17 season
Each year, North Dakota has championship aspirations, so by their standards a 21-16-3 record a year ago coupled with being bounced in the NCAA West Regional Semifinal qualified as a down year. It appears that UND will be a team to watch this season if early returns are any indication. Early season wins over Minnesota, Colorado College and Wisconsin have them sitting 6-2-2, with a huge matchup on the horizon at Denver for a two game set November 16th and 17th. Ottawa fourth rounder Christian Wolanin leads the team with nine points in 10 games, but freshman Nashville prospect Grant Mismash is right on his heels with three goals and five assists. Mismash was selected in the second round this summer, later then some scouts felt he should have gone. He looks like a multi-year player for North Dakota and the next potential star forward in the Grand Forks pipeline.
Early Trouble for Hockey East?
Outside of Northeastern and New Hampshire, both of whom have had solid starts to their 2017-18 seasons, Hockey East has been underwhelming to start the year. Providence is the only other team with a record over .500, with the rest of the league carrying a 26-44-6 record through the first quarter of the season. Both BC and BU have played tough out of conference schedules, and have had to replace big-time producers from last season. I pegged Northeastern as a team to fly under the radar this year in our preview last month, and they have produced to start the year. However, they start a stretch of games this week that includes games against the Eagles, Terriers and UCONN in the next couple weeks, which will show how much they have grown from a year ago.
A look at the scoring race
Some familiar faces for NHL Draft followers litter the scoring charts as it stands in early November. Notre Dame's Jake Evans (MTL) leads all scorers with 18 points through 10 games, followed by Denver's Troy Terry (ANA) with 16. Chicago's sixth rounder from 2014, Dylan Sikura (6G, 8A) finds himself tied for fourth with Flyers prospect Wade Allison (6G, 8A), as both find themselves inside the top five. Henrik Borgstrom (FLA) and Adam Gaudette (VAN) both check in within the top 10, and Borgstrom's nine goals in seven games lead the NCAA.
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