I accept full and complete responsibility for the missing POWER RANKINGS last week. Thanksgiving totally ruined everything.
OK, not really, but sort of. The two and a half day workweek, plus moving out of my apartment combined to make me forget a lot of my real world responsibilities. I’d like to thank all the people who sent notes questioning why there were no rankings. There were exactly zero of you.
Now that I’m done wallowing in self-pity, there’s so much to talk about! The standings don’t look anything like they did this time two weeks ago. Because mostly everyone played four conference games in that time and somewhere along the way Minnesota State pulled its head out of its sphincter. Oh, and the middle of the league is still a giant cluster-you-know-what.
It’s actually kind of funny how the league has broken up. In Tier I you have Ferris. All by itself. No one else really to compete with them. It will remain this way until someone actually beats them. In Tier II, you have pretty much everyone else. That’s a horrible generalization. You have everyone else that is not Alaska, which is unexpectedly bad, and Huntsville, which is comically bad. Those two are in Tier III. Who the best of Tier II is right now is debatable. Some teams are making stronger cases than others. But I think we really won’t have an answer to that question until the playoffs start.
1. Ferris State (LW: 1): Ferris picked up another … I don’t even know what to call it, unsavory tally? It’s not a blemish; so I’m just gonna go with that. The Bulldogs won once and tied once with Northern Michigan this weekend, dropping their record to a measly 8-0-2 in WCHA games this season. I mean, they’re so far clear of everyone else right now, even if you account for the fact that six teams have two games in hand on them. Even if Lake and Mankato each swept the series in which they evened up the games played, Ferris would still be four points ahead of them. Ferris is miles ahead of everyone else in scoring offense, and is just a lick behind Michigan Tech in scoring defense. They’re now No. 6 in the nation and haven’t lost in 11 games. They’re as dangerous as any team in the country right now.
2. Lake Superior (LW: 3): Since we last met, Lake went 3-1 and is slightly ahead of most of the rest of the league thanks to only having played eight conference games. The Lakers played an, uhhh, exciting series last weekend against BG, scoring five third-period goals in two games to sweep the Falcons and exorcise the demons of last year’s colossal dump they dropped in the playoffs. In that second tier, Lake is establishing itself as one of the better teams.
3. Minnesota State (LW: 4): Look who finally showed up! Alright, a home sweep of Alaska-Anchorage isn’t exactly a huge accomplishment, but if there was any team that needed it, it was the Mavericks. They now have a modest three-game win streak, which they will take into a very winnable home series against Northern Michigan. This is how seasons turn around. Get a couple easy wins under your belt, build up some confidence, and presto, you’re playing great against good teams too. Matt Leitner and Teddy Blueger combined for like a billion points this weekend (OK, it was only seven) and getting those two on track will be key for the Mavericks completing this turnaround.
4. Michigan Tech (LW: 5): Speaking of turnarounds, Tech swept a surprisingly bad Alaska team (in Fairbanks!) last weekend. They weren’t like, totally dominating efforts, but winning in Alaska is never easy and winning back-to-back there is even less easy. Speaking of dominating, Alex Petan is finally playing like the player Tech needs him to play like. He had two goals and an assist in Friday’s 3-2 win and an assist in Saturday’s 2-1 win. He has an eight-game point streak. Not entirely coincidentally, Tech is 5-2-1 in those games.
5. Bowling Green (LW: 2): I touched on this Sunday, so I won’t go in-depth here, but this weekend was a massive failure for BG. You need to get points every weekend in this league if you want to compete for a first-round home playoff series. Right now, BG would not have that. Right now, the only teams the Falcons are ahead of in the standings is a team who can’t win on the road (Anchorage) a team that has been uncharacteristically bad (Alaska) and a team that can’t win at all (Huntsville). Fortunately for BG, it gets Huntsville at home this weekend. It’s a perfect remedy for a change in fortunes. Or, should everything go wrong, it’s a deathtrap that could torpedo the season. Seriously. You don’t want to give away points by losing to Huntsville.
6. Bemidji State (LW: 7): At some point I’m going to have to start giving respect to the Beavers. They’re still second in the WCHA, even though that can and probably will change once teams catch up with them in the games played category. They lost once and tied once with Miami this weekend, not something to scoff at. Their plus-eight goal differential in conference games is, right now, second best in the league. Their 5-8-3 overall record is skewed because of its insane non-conference schedule, which came against teams currently ranked No. 1, No. 2 and No. 12. They’ll be one to watch as the conference schedule heats up.
7. Northern Michigan (LW: 8): As is seemingly the usual, Northern is a team that is good, not great. They’re a team that has moments of great play (at this point, tying Ferris counts as great play), but doesn’t quite win enough to be seen as one of the better teams in Tier II. The Wildcats are 4-3-1 in conference play, and 6-6-2 overall. We’ll see how they fare against an improving Minnesota State team this weekend.
8. Alaska (LW: 6): I think Alaska is better than this, I really do. They’re a terrible 2-6 in conference games, but their overall 5-7-2 record is better. Yeah, that 3-1-2 non-conference record came in games exclusively played in Alaska. That’s a fair point. But I feel like, at some point, their record will progress back to the mean. They’re too talented of a team to be this bad for this long.
9. Alaska-Anchorage (LW: 9): They’re at the bottom of Tier II teams, but I guess the fact that they’re still considered a Tier II is good for them. Not a good effort last weekend against Mankato. They’ll engage in the battle of Alaska this weekend.
10. Alabama-Huntsville (LW: 10): I really don’t know what to say about them at this point. They’ve scored 13 goals in 14 games this season, which includes being shut out in their of their last four. Their goal differential on the season is minus-50. One day they’ll win a game this season. For this sake of I don’t want to have to write anything bad next week, I hope it’s not this weekend.