Last week saw the Boston College Eagles take the top spot in our rankings. With as much flux as there has been in the NCAA rankings this season, it wouldn't have been a surprise if they lost that top spot. Unfortunately for the rest of the NCAA, the Eagles had other plans.
The NHL deadline may have come and gone without the Dallas Stars making a big splash but you can’t blame Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk if he was reluctant to part with a handful of prospects that may have been requested, such as Austin Smith. Smith, a senior forward at Colgate, currently leads all of Division I with 34 goals; that’s eight more than the next player, who, ironically, is also a Stars prospect named Smith. In fact, four different draft picks of the Dallas franchise are currently leading their NCAA teams in scoring.
If Dallas is looking for a complement to Jamie Benn for the future success of the franchise, the Stars can just look across the campuses of the northern United States. Unfortunately, no Dallas prospect has helped the top team in our weekly power rankings, who hold onto the perch while continuing to win.
1. Boston College (23-10-1): One week after coach Jerry York secured his 900th career victory behind the bench, the Eagles seniors got their 100th win at Boston College with Saturday’s 7-0 blanking of Providence. It also extended their NCAA-best winning streak
to nine games.
2. Minnesota-Duluth (22-7-5): The Bulldogs suffered just one weekend sweep this season, and that came in the first month of the campaign to intrastate rival Minnesota.
3. Michigan (21-11-4): The Wolverines’ offense is starting to come around. Michigan has five players with at least 10 goals and six players with at least 20 points. They’re all led by freshman and Dallas Stars prospect Alex Guptill, who has 16 markers and 31 points.
4. Ferris State (22-9-5): Despite a tie and loss against Western Michigan to end the regular season, the Bulldogs still took their first CCHA regular-season title since 2003.
5. Boston University (20-11-1): Like Michigan, the Terriers also have a Stars prospect leading them in scoring. Junior Alex Chiasson is tops with 37 points on 12 goals and 25 helpers.
6. Mass-Lowell (20-10-1): Whatever happens in this year’s NCAA Tournament, the River Hawks are primed for a few years of success. Starting goalie Doug Carr, and UML’s two leading goal scorers, Penguins prospect Scott Wilson and Derek Arnold, are all underclassmen.
7. Minnesota (23-11-1): The Golden Gophers have just two seniors among the team’s 15 top scorers. But after this postseason run, they will lose senior goalie and Avalanche draftee Kent Patterson, who has played every minute for Minnesota this year.
8. Miami (21-13-2): Yet another Dallas Stars prospect is at the top of the RedHawks’ scoring chart. Junior Reilly Smith leads the team with 26 goals and 38 points in 34 games.
9. Union (20-7-7): They lost to Cornell on Friday but outdueled the Big Red for the ECAC regular-season crown. But that just gets them home ice in the ECAC tournament. The Dutchmen likely still need to make a strong run through the conference playoffs to secure their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
10. Maine (19-11-3): Undrafted senior Spencer Abbott still leads all Division I players with 56 points, but that shouldn’t overshadow the play of undrafted junior Joey Diamond, who leads the Black Bears with 22 goals.
11. Michigan State (19-13-4): A 6-2-0 February was a proper follow-up to the 2-4-2 record the Spartans posted in January. As a result, Michigan State got a first-round bye before travelling to face Miami in the quarterfinal round of the CCHA playoffs.
12. Northern Michigan (16-12-6): The Wildcats love their Olympic-size rink. They’re 10-2-5 at home, but just 6-10-1 on the road. So it’s a good thing they were able to sweep rival Lake Superior and earn the home ice for their first-round CCHA Tournament match-up with Bowling Green.
13. Denver (19-11-4): That ugly loss to Alabama-Huntsville may come back to haunt the Pioneers. Right now, it’s the difference between them being in their current 13th slot in the Pairwise rankings, used to select and seed NCAA Tournament teams, and a more comfortable spot in 10th.
14. North Dakota (18-12-3): The Sioux’s power play is 9-for-35 in its last eight games – an impressive stat to be sure. But as good as the power play has been, the penalty kill has been just as bad, with the oppostion scoring on 10 of its 36 chances in that same span.
15. Merrimack (16-9-7): The Warriors have gone 5-6-4 since the start of 2012 and have posted just one two-game winning streak since starting the season 8-0-1. That’s what they call trending in the wrong direction.
16. Air Force (17-9-7): Since taking the starting duties from senior Stephen Caple, sophomore netminder Jason Torf has posted a rather mediocre 6-4-2 record. But his 1.65 goals-against average and .931 save percentage show he might be a force to watch in the postseason.
On the Bubble
17. Cornell (15-7-7): Junior defenseman and Penguins prospect Nick D’Agostino was lighting the world in fire in the season’s first half, but finished the regular season with a six-game scoreless drought.
18. Western Michigan (17-13-6): Despite hovering in the lower part of these rankings for most of the year, and despite finishing the regular season on a 7-8-1 run, the Broncos finished tied with Michigan for second place in the highly competitive CCHA. A league-high 4 shootout wins helped a lot.
19. Ohio State (15-13-5): The Buckeyes travel to Notre Dame this weekend for a best-of-three in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The loser can almost assuredly kiss any chances of a tournament bid goodbye.
20. Notre Dame (17-16-3): The thing killing the Irish in the Pairwise rankings is their record against teams under consideration, or those with an RPI of .500 or better. Right now, the Irish are 10-14-2 in those games, and they won’t benefit from having teams that had beaten them fall out of consideration. Notre Dame needs to reach at least the semifinals of the CCHA playoffs to have a shot at an NCAA Tournament berth.
Parker Milner, Boston College
The week: The undrafted junior stopped all 54 shots he faced in a sweep of Providence, before giving way to senior Chris Venti for the last 10 minutes of Saturday’s 7-0 win.
Fun fact: Parker is an alumni of the underrated Pittsburgh Hornets AAA Midget team, along with NHLers Ryan Malone and R.J. Umberger, and highly touted OHL prospects J.T. Miller and John Gibson.
Matt Thurber, Northern Michigan
The week: The undrafted junior tallied two goals, three assists, and was a plus-3 in a sweep of Lake Superior.
Fun fact: The native of Beaver Dam, Wis., also breaks a sweat by wakeboarding and snowboarding.
Adam Schmidt, Holy Cross
The week: The sophomore had four goals and an assist – including a hat trick in Saturday’s 6-4 win over Bentley.
Fun fact: Over two decades ago, his mother Tami was captain of the West Virginia diving team.
Northeast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)
1 Boston College vs. 4 North Dakota
2 Mass-Lowell vs. 3 Michigan State
East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)
1 Michigan vs. 4 Merrimack
2 Boston University vs. 3 Northern Michigan
Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wis.)
1 Ferris State vs. 4 Denver
2 Miami vs. 3 Union
West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)
1 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 4 Air Force
2 Minnesota vs. 3 Maine
Photo by Boston College