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  • NCAA Rankings: Going, going, gone Print
    Futures Watch
    Written by Steve Wozniak   
    Tuesday, 06 March 2012 03:02

    So it begins and so, too, does it end for 12 teams this week as college hockey kicks off its conference tournaments.

    Steve WozniakThe CCHA, ECAC and Atlantic Hockey saw 11 teams eliminated from their conference tournaments, but Northern Michigan, despite falling to last-place Bowling Green, at least still has hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But we bid a farewell to Army, Canisius, American International, Sacred Heart, Alaska, Ohio State, Princeton, St. Lawrence, Clarkson and Brown. We also bid adieu to Vermont and Northeastern, who failed to even qualify for the Hockey East postseason tourney this week.

    The other 46 teams still maintain at least a mathematical, if not reasonable chance at a championship run, but for now, our power rankings focus only on the 16 teams currently in position for a tournament bid, and those close enough to smell a berth.

    1. Boston College (25-10-1): Could the Eagles be peaking too early or too much? Not only are they riding an 11-game winning streak, but they’ve also outscored their opposition 40-8 over the last nine games and 19-1 over the last four.

    2. Michigan (21-11-4): Like BC, the Wolverines are heading into their playoff quarterfinal on a bit of a hot streak. Since a seven-game winless streak in November, Michigan has gone on a 14-3-2 run, and senior goalie Shawn Hunwick ended the regular season with his fifth shutout.

    3. UMass-Lowell (22-10-1): Seven different River Hawks have at least 10 goals this season, and eight have at least 20 points. Being able to roll three prolific lines in the postseason is highly underrated.

    4. Minnesota-Duluth (22-8-6): Undrafted sophomore winger J.T. Brown, suddenly the object of many NHL scouts’ attention, leads all of Division I in plus/minus with a plus-30 rating.

    5. Ferris State (22-9-5): If the Bulldogs fail to score at least three goals, they’re 3-9-2 this season. But when they do hit that magic number, they’re 19-0-3. That’s about as close as you’ll get to a sure thing.

    6. Boston University (21-12-1): The next goalie who shuts out the Terriers will be the first this season. In fact, Boston hasn’t been shut out since a 1-0 loss to Northeastern on Nov. 6, 2009. That’s at least a goal in 105 straight games and counting.

    7. Minnesota (24-12-1): Sophomore and Colorado Avalanche draftee Nate Condon has 10 goals on the season; just one has come on the power play but four have come short-handed.

    8. Union (20-7-7): On top of the nation’s best defense, the Dutchmen now have the sixth best offense and the biggest average scoring margin of +1.68 goals per game.

    9. Miami (21-13-2): Dallas Stars prospect Reilly Smith doesn’t just lead the RedHawks in scoring; he also leads Division I with eight game-winning goals.

    10. Maine (20-11-3): The Black Bears finally nudged ahead of Harvard to sit atop the power play rankings. Maine is succeeding 27.8 percent of the time with the man advantage.

    11. Denver (21-11-4): Sophomore star and Penguins prospect Beau Bennett is expected to return to the ice this week after a sliced tendon in his wrist knocked him out of the lineup for three months. Odds are he won’t dress for a game until the NCAA tournament should the Pioneers qualify.

    12. Michigan State (19-13-4): Junior blueliner Torey Krug ranks third among NCAA defensemen with 32 points and second with 11 goals.

    13. North Dakota (20-12-3): Canadiens prospect Danny Kristo, Islanders prospect Brock Nelson and undrafted junior Carter Rowney have combined for 56 goals this season. The rest of their teammates have combined for 52.

    14. Cornell (15-7-7): The Big Red has six NHL draft picks on its roster. Leading scorer Greg Miller is not one of them.

    15. Merrimack (17-10-7): Edmonton Oilers prospect Kyle Bigos picked up a whopping 22 penalty minutes last weekend to take his season total to 110. That’s more than the 94 he earned as a freshman, but short of the 127 he tallied last season.

    16. Air Force (17-9-7): Perhaps we should have replaced “Air Force” with “Insert Atlantic Hockey tournament champion here,” because that’s all the 16th seed in the tournament will be. The regular-season champion Falcons are the favorite, but it’s honestly up for grabs among eight teams right now.

    On the Bubble

    17. Northern Michigan (17-14-6): After being eliminated from the conference playoffs, all the Wildcats can do is watch and wait for the next two weeks. They need so many things to fall their way, we can’t even enumerate them right now.

    18. Western Michigan (17-13-6): Undrafted sophomore defenseman Dan DeKeyser is said to be attracting some attention from NHL scouts, but this season, the star has been sophomore Predators draft pick Chase Balisy, tops on the Broncos squad with 32 points.

    19. Notre Dame (19-16-3): The Irish have a winning record despite being outscored this season, 102-99.

    20. Colorado College (18-14-2): Undrafted senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel continues to quietly contribute an above-average season for the Tigers. The blueliner now has 93 career points.

    THREE STARS 

    Antoine Laganiere, Yale

    The week: The undrafted junior had five goals on 17 shots, including a hat trick in Sunday’s 7-3 clincher as the Bulldogs needed three games to eliminate Princeton from the first round of the ECAC playoffs.

    Fun fact: He is an accomplished piano player.

    Adam Brace, Robert Morris

    The week: Four goals, two assists and a plus-4 as the Colonials took three games to eliminate American International from the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.

    Fun fact: This is his second season at Bobby Mo after transferring from Canisius.

    Billy Maday, Notre Dame

    The week: Three goals, including the only ones in Friday’s 2-0 victory by the Irish, and an assist as Notre Dame swept Ohio State to advance to the quarterfinals of the CCHA playoffs.

    Fun fact: Billy attended the New York Islanders’ prospect camp in 2009.

    EARLY BRACKETOLOGY

    Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)

    1 Boston College vs. 4 Air Force

    2 Boston University vs. 3 Denver

    East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)

    1 UMass-Lowell vs. 4 North Dakota

    2 Union vs. 3 Miami

    Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wis.)

    1 Michigan vs. 4 Merrimack

    2 Ferris State vs. 3 Maine

    West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)

    1 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 4 Cornell

    2 Minnesota vs. 3 Michigan State

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    Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 03:09