Minnesota-Duluth takes over the top spot
The Bulldogs are 7-1-2 on the early season, with sweeps of Michigan Tech, defending champion North Dakota, and St. Cloud State. With that impressive resume, Minnesota-Duluth took over the number one ranking in the USCHO Poll, garnering all 50 first place votes.
USCHO Top 20 – As of Nov. 7th
1. Minnesota-Duluth (50) – 7-1-2
2. Denver – 6-2-0
3. Boston College – 8-2-1
4. Boston University – 4-2-1
5. Massachusetts-Lowell – 6-2-2
6. North Dakota – 5-3-1
7. Quinnipiac – 5-3-1
8. Minnesota – 4-2-2
9. Notre Dame – 4-3-1
10. Harvard – 3-0-1
11. Minnesota State – 7-3-0
12. Penn State – 7-1-1
13. St. Cloud State – 4-4-0
14. Ohio State – 5-1-3
15. Bemidji State – 8-2-0
16. Union – 8-2-1
17. Providence – 3-3-2
18. Michigan – 4-3-1
19. Yale – 2-1-0
20. Lake Superior State – 6-2-0
Both Penn State and Ohio State have started the season red hot, with only two losses in a combined 18 games. The Big Ten conference season has not yet started, but when it does, expect Minnesota to be the cream that rises to the top. Sophomore Tommy Novak (2015, 85th Overall, NSH) was named Big Ten First Star of the Week, after winning and tying North Dakota in two games last weekend.
Team of the Month: Penn State
The Nittany Lions are 7-1-1 on the early season, despite boasting just one NHL drafted player. Freshman Denis Smirnov leads the team with 15 points in nine games, tops among all NCAA newcomers. Penn State is home for their next three series, facing off with Alaska Anchorage and Arizona State, before opening Big Ten season against Michigan.
Boston College has started the season 5-0-1 in conference, outscoring their opponents 26-13 in the process. Boston University (4) and UMass Lowell (5) are the other two teams that fall within the top five of the USCHO’s ranking, and will battle it out with each other throughout the season.
Rounding out the conferences other Top 20 teams are Notre Dame (9) and Providence (17).
Team of the Month: Boston College
Boston College has started the season 5-0-1 in conference, outscoring their opponents 26-13 in the process. The Eagles have five scorers with double-digit points, paced by seniors Austin Cangelosi and Matthew Gaudreau.
No other Hockey East team has played more than three conference games, so the Eagles hot start has helped them build a lead that others will have to chase as the conference season evolves.
The NCHC boasts three of the top six teams in the USCHO Top 20 a month into the college hockey season. Defending NCAA Champion North Dakota has faltered a bit to start the season; going 0-3-1 in their last four games. Denver has had a nice bounce back after starting their campaign with two losses. The Pioneers have won their last six games, outscoring their opponents 19-9. The two teams play back-to-back games this Friday and Saturday in Grand Forks.
Team of the Month: Minnesota-Duluth
The Bulldogs get top billing as the NCHC’s team of the month, with their only loss coming at the hands of ninth ranked Notre Dame, 3-1. Senior Alex Iafallo leads all Minnesota-Duluth scorers with 13 points in 10 games, and sophomore Neal Pionk is tied for second among NCAA blueliners with 11 points.
Freshman goaltender Hunter Miska has played to 6-0 record, allowing just 15 goals. The Minnesota native is tied for second among NCAA goaltenders with two shutouts.
The WCHA has three teams in the Top 20 in this weeks poll with Minnesota State (11), Bemidji State (15), and Lake Superior State (20) all checking in after one month of college hockey.
Bemidji State junior goaltender Michael Bitzer has been an absolute stud, winning all eight of his in-conference starts, three of which were shutouts. His goals against average is a razor thin 0.75 and his save percentage is .962%.
Team of the Month: Bemidji State
The Beavers are 8-2 on the season with their only two losses coming at the hands of defending champion North Dakota. Bemidji State has swept their way through their eight conference games thus far, outscoring their opposition 25-6.
Led by six upperclassmen, the Beavers have balanced scoring up and down the lineup, with six different players tallying three or more goals on the season. Bemidji State has allowed just 14 goals this year, which is lowest among any WCHL team.
Freshman of Week: Joey Anderson, Minnesota-Duluth
2016 third round pick Joey Anderson (NJD) has started his freshman season solidly with 12 points in his first 10 games. Even more impressive is that only one of those points have come with the man advantage. He is second on the club with 27 shots, and leads the team with nine assists.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for NHL prospect talk and happenings.
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