WCHA Week 8 Round-Up/Power Rankings: Badgers Bounce Back

Larry Radloff/Inchwriters.com

Wisconsin's three point weekend highlights this week's WCHA recap.

Wisconsin rebounded from perhaps the low point of their season last weekend by taking three points on the road at first place Denver. Elsewhere, the other top five teams in the league all had splits.

Here's a look at how I ranked the WCHA's teams in my vote for the Tech Hockey Guide Web Media Poll.

1. Denver (NC) Last Week: T vs. Wisconsin 1-1, L vs. Wisconsin 3-1

And that's why they play the games. First place Denver looked like they would blow out struggling Wisconsin. Instead, Denver was very lucky to even get a single point on Friday night when Joey LaLeggia scored a late goal.

I debated moving the Pioneers down from the top slot after a disappointing weekend, but ultimately, it's a tough league and that's going to happen to everybody from time to time. Denver's body of week is still the most impressive in the league.

2. Minnesota(NC) Last Week: L vs Nebraska-Omaha 3-2, W vs. Nebraska-Omaha 3-2

Minnesota faced their first quality opponent of the season(though Minnesota State has now crept into TUC territory, as well) and they came out of it with a hard-earned split.

This is a big week for the Gophers because they'll be finding out which players, if any, they might lose over Christmas break to the World Juniors tournament. Travis Boyd, Brady Skjei, and Mike Reilly are all candidates that are likely right on the bubble.

3. North Dakota (+1) Last Week: L at Colorado College 5-3, W at Colorado College 3-2(OT)

Freshman Drake Caggiula scored in overtime on Saturday to salvage a split on the weekend for North Dakota on a tough road trip. Caggiula quietly has five goals and eight points through his first 14 college games, which is a pretty nice first half to his college career.

North Dakota has a big one next weekend when they host Denver.

4. Nebraska-Omaha (+1) Last Week: W at Minnesota 3-2, L at Minnesota 3-2

UNO's loss on Saturday snapped what had been a seven-game win streak for the Mavericks.

Ryan Walters had four assists on the weekend, but none had to be more satisfying for the former Gophers commit than his beauty of a game-winning assist on Friday night, considering Walters and Gophers departed on less than amicable terms.

5. Colorado College (+1) Last Week: W vs. North Dakota 5-3, L vs. North Dakota 3-2(OT)

The line of Alexander Krushelnyski, Scott Winkler, and Charlie Taft combined for 11 points in Friday's win. The big night now puts Winkler, a Dallas draft pick, at over a point per game for the season. The senior has shown steady improvement every year since he came to college hockey, and now looks to be a key component on a pretty decent team.

6. St. Cloud State (-3) Last Week: W at Alaska-Anchorage 4-3(OT), L at Alaska-Anchorage 3-1

After an impressive start to the WCHA season, the Huskies have cooled off and looked like a team ready to drop for a few weeks now. Giving Anchorage their first conference win of the season seems an appropriate occasion to do that.

By all rights, the Huskies probably should have lost Friday night as well when they gave up goals on each of the first three shots by Alaska-Anchorage, but they were able to claw their way back with two third period goals, and then an overtime winner by Jimmy Murray.

7. Minnesota State (+1) Last Week: W vs. Bemidji State 3-0, W vs. Bemidji State 6-1

I'm not sure I've ever seen a Minnesota State dominate the opposition the way they did on Saturday night. It's tough to move the Mavericks any higher than seventh, given their two losses to St. Cloud, and the fact that they haven't really beaten any quality competition yet, but if they take keep taking care of business against the teams below them, and one of the top six falters, they could have a shot at home ice in the playoffs.

8. Wisconsin (+3) Last Week: T at Denver 1-1, W at Denver 3-1

There still wasn't much offense from the Badgers, but getting Nic Kerdiles back in the lineup did seem to give them a shot in the arm, and they played very defensively all weekend, getting great performances from both of their goalies. Mark Zengerle is close to returning from his finger injury, which should only help. They're still not scoring enough to consistently compete with the top half of the league, but this is a much better team than the team that bottomed out over Thanksgiving weekend.

9. Minnesota-Duluth (NC) Last Week: W at Michigan Tech 7-3, T at Michigan Tech 4-4

Duluth was the team I struggled with the most when putting my vote together. It feels like they should be moving up higher in the rankings after a nice three point weekend on the road. The problem is that it's tough to put them ahead of a Wisconsin, since they have the same league record as the Badgers, and lost 3 of 4 points to them at home, and if you can't put them ahead of Wisconsin, it's tough to put them ahead of Minnesota State too.

That said, if the Bulldogs keep scoring the way they did this past weekend, it should all work itself out. Similar to Minnesota State, after a tough early schedule, they've got series coming up against Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage, would could be a good opportunity to get back into the race for home ice.

10. Michigan Tech (-3) Last Week: L vs. Minnesota-Duluth 7-3, T vs. Minnesota-Duluth 4-4

The blue line remains a big concern for the Huskies. They've largely turned over the forwards and turned that into a pretty formidable force, but they sometimes look like the same old Tech on the blue line.

Jujhar Khaira had a multi-point game on Saturday, bringing his season total to 10 points in 12 games. He's really starting to realize his enormous potential.

11. Bemidji State (-1) Last Week: L at Minnesota State 3-0, L at Minnesota State 6-1

I'm still not quite sure why this Bemidji State team isn't performing better. They're not generating much offense beyond their top line, and their defense and goal tending hasn't been as good as I expected. I think there's still the potential there to turn things around and for them to be a very tough team in the second half of the season, but right now, they seem like one of the easier match-ups in the WCHA.

12. Alaska-Anchorage (NC) Last Week: L vs. St. Cloud State 4-3(OT), W vs. St. Cloud State 3-1

Friday's game seemed like the type of game that only Anchorage could lose. Once St. Cloud got on the board, it seemed almost like a given that the Huskies would come back to win. It was a very nice effort by the Seawolves to come back and win on Saturday though, especially when it was beginning to look like they might not win a game all year.

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