Denver rides streak to the top spot
After starting the season with two losses, Denver has gone on an epic 14-2-4 run led by Troy Terry (ANA), Henrik Borgström (FLA), Will Butcher (COL) and junior goaltender Tanner Jaillet. The race to the finish in the NCHC will be one to watch with Denver, Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota battling for the top spot in the conference.
1. Denver (27) – 14-4-4
2. Harvard (11) – 11-2-1
3. Minnesota-Duluth (6) – 12-4-4
4. Penn State – 14-2-1
5. Boston University – 12-5-2
6. UMass-Lowell – 14-5-3
7. North Dakota – 12-6-3
8. Boston College – 14-7-2
9. Minnesota – 11-5-2
10. Ohio State – 10-4-4
11. Union – 14-5-2
12. Vermont – 14-6-2
13. Notre Dame – 12-7-2
14. Western Michigan – 10-5-3
15. Quinnipiac – 12-9-2
16. St. Lawrence – 11-6-5
17. Bemidji State – 15-8-3
18. Minnesota State – 13-7-2
19. Cornell – 9-4-1
20. Michigan Tech – 14-9-3
Read more: http://www.uscho.com/rankings/d-i-mens-poll/
Through four conference games, there is a three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten with Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin leading the way with a 3-1 record. Over the next two months, the Big Ten schedule will ramp up considerably and some distance will start to be put between the top and the bottom of the conference.
Team of the Month: Minnesota
After a mediocre start to the season, the Gophers are currently in the midst of a stretch where the team has put up six wins in seven games. During their hot streak, Minnesota has been averaging over four goals per game. They have received great seasons from Tyler Sheehy and Justin Kloos and have plenty of up and coming talent in Rem Pitlick (NSH), Tommy Novak (NSH), Brent Gates (ANA) and Ryan Lindgren (BOS).
Boston College got out to a quick start in Hockey East, playing eight conference games before the start of December. The rest of the league is starting to catch up, with UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire and Vermont in the midst of hot streaks, that have closed the points gap at the top of the conference. Following the World Juniors, watch out for Boston University to make a move with a healthy Clayton Keller (ARI).
Team of the Month: UMass-Lowell
The River Hawks have run off seven games unbeaten, including four straight within Hockey East, bringing their conference record to 7-3-1. UMass-Lowell has a veteran-laden squad, as their top six scorers are upperclassmen. Their balanced scoring has been paired with a solid freshman season in net from Tyler Wall (NYR). In their recent seven game stretch, the team has allowed just 12 goals, stifling their opponents in impressive fashion, given that they only played one home game.
Denver and Minnesota-Duluth are the current cream of the crop in the NCHC with defending champion North Dakota waiting in the wings, playing their best hockey of the season. Minnesota-Duluth is pacing the conference with 25 points, but have also played three or four games more than the rest of NCHC. Currently, the conference houses three of the top seven teams in the USCHO Top 20 poll.
Team of the Month: North Dakota
The defending champions are ramping up their play at the right time, winning five of their last six. Brock Boeser returned from his injury in a big way, putting up three goals and two assists in a weekend sweep of Nebraska-Omaha. Pairing a healthy Boeser with a supremely confident Tyson Jost coming off a solid World Juniors could be the formula that North Dakota can use to get back to the top of the college hockey mountain.
Bemidji State continues to pace the WCHA at 15-3-2 in conference, playing two to four more games then the rest of the league. Michigan Tech is nipping at their heels winning 11 of their last 14 conference games, suffering just one loss. The fight is in the middle of the WCHA standings, where the difference between third and seventh place in the league is just six points.
Team of the Month: Michigan Tech
Michigan Tech has continued their hot streak, and takes home WCHA team of the month for the second month running. The Huskies strong play has been highlighted by a continued shutdown defensive effort, allowing just nine goals in their last seven conference games. Michigan Tech split an out of conference series with 13th ranked Notre Dame on the road last weekend, and will face Minnesota State the weekend of January 20th.
Freshman of the Month: Agnus Redmond, Michigan Tech
Since taking over the net in late October, Redmond has been a huge piece of Michigan Tech’s success. The British Columbia-born goaltender leads all freshmen netminders in games started (18), wins (13) and goals against average (1.41). Over his last 10 starts, Redmond has allowed just 13 goals, to lead Michigan Tech to a Top-20 ranking.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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