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|NCAA Rankings: What makes Ferris so special?|
|Written by Steve Wozniak|
|Monday, 13 February 2012 15:26|
Last weekend saw a slew of top teams fall at least once in intraconference match-ups. As a result, we had to blow up last week’s rankings and start anew. Taking the top spot are the owners of the nation’s longest unbeaten streak, now at 12 games after a sweep of Notre Dame.1. Ferris State (20-8-4): The Bulldogs have had exactly one conference regular-season championship and one NCAA tournament appearance – both in 2002-03 – in their 33 previous seasons in Division I. With a sweep of last-place Bowling Green next weekend, Ferris will clinch its second regular-season CCHA crown.
2. Boston University (17-9-1): Six Terriers have already passed the 20-point mark for the season. The departures of New York Islanders prospect Corey Trivino and Minnesota Wild prospect Charlie Coyle over the holidays are quickly becoming a distant and irrelevant memory.
3. Minnesota-Duluth (19-7-4): Lost in the shadow of Jack Connolly’s outstanding season is the work of undrafted senior Travis Oleksuk, who has quietly rolled up 17 goals and 41 points in 30 games.
4. Michigan (18-10-4): Leading scorer and Dallas Stars prospect Alex Guptill leads all freshmen with 14 goals, making the race for Rookie-of-the-Year honors that much more crowded.
5. Boston College (18-10-1): Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau will also get mention as a top freshman with 13 goals and 24 points in 29 games.
6. Mass-Lowell (19-8-0): Seven River Hawks players have at least 20 points, and seven have at least eight goals. That secondary scoring will serve them well in what will be their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995-96.
7. Maine (17-9-3): The Black Bears’ offense ranks fourth in the nation, it’s defense just 35th – this despite the fact that all four NHL draft picks on the Maine roster take up residence on the blueline or in the crease.
8. Denver (17-9-4): The return of goalie and Panthers prospect Sam Brittain has been a big boon, but there’s a bigger reason for Denver’s second-half surge. Since Dec. 30, the Pioneers’ power play is 16-for-48 (33.33 percent).
9. Merrimack (15-7-6): Through their 4-2 loss to Boston University on Jan. 6, the Warriors were averaging 33.06 shots per game. Since then, they’re only averaging 28.7. Why is this important? Merrimack is 10-2-3 when outshooting its opponent, just 5-5-3 when it doesn’t.
10. Northern Michigan (14-10-6): The Wildcats must be doing it with smoke and mirrors. They sit in ninth place in the CCHA, their offense is ranked 34th among 58 teams, their defense tied for 22nd, and they’re the fourth-most penalized team in Division I. Yet here they are, four games above .500 and locking themselves in for a tournament appearance.
11. Union (17-6-7): In 30 games, the Dutchmen have been outshot just four times, and only once in their last 11. They still won that one, a 3-1 decision against Colgate.
12. Michigan State (16-12-4): The Spartans have a team shooting percentage of 10.88 percent. Leading the way is undrafted senior forward Mike Merrifield, who has tallied 11 goals on just 33 shots.
13. Minnesota (19-11-1): What was once the top offense in the nation has averaged just 2.33 goals in its last six games. Take away the power play, and the Gophers are only putting up 1.67 goals per game in that stretch.
14. Ohio State (15-11-5): Saturday’s 4-3 decision over Western Michigan ended an 11-game winless streak. Now the Buckeyes get just two games with Miami to build some momentum before the CCHA conference playoffs.
15. Miami (17-13-2): The RedHawks are battling Notre Dame not just for a first-round bye in the CCHA conference playoffs, but also for one of the last at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. Next weekend’s series between the two in Oxford will go a long way to helping either team.
16. Air Force (15-7-7): While RIT and Mercyhurst seem intent on blowing every opportunity to grab the lead in Atlantic Hockey, the Falcons have used an eight-game unbeaten streak to propel them into the conference lead.
On the bubble….17. North Dakota (16-11-2): Minnesota-Duluth’s 5-for-13 performance on the power play exposed one of the Sioux’s glaring weaknesses. Their penalty kill, at 81.5 percent, is ranked just 32nd, not far off the 31st where their overall defense ranks. With six NHL draftees on the blueline and another, Buffalo Sabres prospect Brad Eidsness, in the crease, North Dakota has no excuse for the subpar play in its own end.
18. Cornell (13-6-6): Penguins prospect Nick D’Agostino was lighting the world on fire in the season’s first half, but had just four assists in his last 12 games before sitting out Saturday’s win over Yale. With that win, the Big Red won the mildly relevant Ivy League crown, going 7-1-2 against the other Ivy League teams in the ECAC.
19. Notre Dame (16-13-3): In one short month, the Irish have gone from a No. 1 seed to a No. 3 seed to completely out of the tournament if the season ended today. The offense, which was once ranked among the top 10, is now tied for 37th among 58 teams.
20. Western Michigan (15-12-5): Call it a regression to the mean. After starting the year on a 6-0-3 tear, the Broncos have struggled with a 9-12-2 run. They’ll need to make a lot of noise in the CCHA playoffs to make the tournament this year.
THREE STARSTaylor Nelson, Ferris State
The week: Stopped 58 of 59 shots to help the Bulldogs sweep Notre Dame and vault into the top spot of the Pairwise rankings.
Fun fact: The undrafted senior hails from Regina, Saskatchewan, just like former Bulldog star Chris Kunitz.
Drew George, Sacred Heart
The week: Four goals – including a hat trick in Saturday night’s win – an assist and a plus-5 in the Pioneers’ sweep of Connecticut.
Fun fact: Another Regina native, George has listed Patrice Bergeron as his favorite pro athlete.
John Lidgett, Colgate
The week: Managed to upstage Raiders star and Dallas Stars prospect Austin Smith by popping in three goals and three assists in wins over Yale and Brown.
Fun fact: The Edmonton native played his junior hockey with the Calgary Mustangs and Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.
EARLY BRACKETOLOGYNortheast Regional (Worcester, Mass.)
1 Boston University vs. 4 Miami
2 Mass-Lowell vs. 3 Union
East Regional (Bridgeport, Conn.)
1 Ferris State vs. 4 Air Force
2 Boston College vs. 3 Michigan State
Midwest Regional (Green Bay, Wisc.)
1 Minnesota-Duluth vs. 4 Ohio State
2 Maine vs. 3 Northern Michigan
West Regional (St. Paul, Minn.)
1 Michigan vs. 4 Minnesota
2 Denver vs. 3 Merrimack
Photo by Ferris State University
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 12:53|