Here's how I voted in this week's Tech Hockey Guide WCHA Web Media Poll. For the first time this year, I think my ballot exactly matched the final poll.
1. Minnesota: Last Week: L vs. Minnesota State 2-1, W at Minnesota State 4-1
The Gophers played two pretty tight, solid games this weekend. On Friday, they had an unlucky bounce go against them in the final minute, ending their unbeaten streak at 10. What's been lost a little bit in Minnesota's impressive second half run is just how much this team has improved defensively since the beginning of the season. They didn't really give up anything resembling an odd-man rush all weekend. The ability to lock down on opponents like that should serve them well come playoff time.
2. St. Cloud: Last Week: W at North Dakota 3-1, T at North Dakota 2-2
St. Cloud's struggles in non-conference play have kind of hidden just how remarkable they've been in WCHA play. Three points in Grand Forks runs their total up to six wins and a tie in their last seven WCHA conference games. This next weekend should be an interesting test for the Huskies traveling up to Bemidji State in a classic trap series given that they have a series with Minnesota that could determine who wins the league looming the following weekend.
3. North Dakota: Last Week: L vs. St. Cloud 3-1, T vs. St. Cloud 2-2
At least for one night, St. Cloud was able to keep Danny Kristo and Corban Knight off the scoresheet, but North Dakota's dynamic duo each notched two points on Saturday to help earn North Dakota a point, and at least keep them within spitting distance of St. Cloud for the WCHA title.
4. Nebraska-Omaha: Last Week: W at Bemidji State 5-3, W at Bemidji State 2-1
The sweep over Bemidji State is especially significant because of the way Nebraska-Omaha has struggled against Bemidji State in recent years. The bad news is that there's a pretty good chance The four points also keeps them tied with Minnesota for second place in the standings, and primed to make a move if first place St. Cloud and second place Minnesota were to split their series with each other in two weeks.
5. Denver: Last Week: Bye
The Pioneers have been a streaky team all year, both for the good and the bad, so a bye after being swept by St. Cloud probably came at the right time. A good result at Duluth this weekend really puts them on the inside track for home ice in the playoffs and helps keep them in the NCAA tournament field.
6. Wisconsin: Last Week: W vs. Alaska-Anchorage 5-2, W vs. Alaska-Anchorage 2-1
Getting to play Alaska-Anchorage twice in the second half of the season hardly seems fair, but those eight points helped vault the Badgers into a tie for 4th place in the WCHA. Wisconsin only has one loss, a non-conference game against Miami, since Thanksgiving weekend.
7. Minnesota State: Last Week: W at Minnesota 2-1, L vs. Minnesota 4-1
The fine folks at INCH perhaps summed it best when they said you could make an argument for every call that went Minnesota's way on Saturday night individually, but when you put all those calls together, Minnesota State fans had a right to be frustrated. It was a very similar situation two weeks ago when Minnesota State faced off against the league's other Big Ten school--a series also officiated by a member of the Shepherd family--where Minnesota State probably had an even more legitimate argument over a fishy video review than either of the two reviews that went against them against Minnesota. At least the Mavericks will get to enjoy one last big paycheck from the WCHA playoffs/Final Five.
8. Minnesota-Duluth. Last Week: Bye
The Bulldogs have a chance to make their move for home ice with home series against Denver and Minnesota State, the two teams directly ahead of them in the standings in the next two weekens.
9. Colorado College: Last Week: Bye
A big goal for the Tigers coming into this year was avoiding their near-annual second half swoon. They're 2-4 since the start of 2013 so far, and are now probably out of the race for home ice in the playoffs, barring a remarkable turnaround.
10. Michigan Tech: Last Week: Bye
The Huskies are most likely battling with Bemidji State for 10th place in the stretch run, and possibly hoping to pass Colorado College for 9th place.
11. Bemidji State: Last Week: L vs. Nebraska-Omaha 5-3, L vs. Nebraska-Omaha 2-1
The 0-3-1 start to the second half of their WCHA season just about ends any chance of the Beavers making a surprise run at home ice. They've got St. Cloud, Minnesota,and North Dakota all left on their schedule, so they could end up playing spoiler for somebody with a win or two in that stretch.
12. Alaska-Anchorage: Last Week: L at Wisconsin 5-2, L at Wisconsin 2-1
What can you say? This is going to be a brutal back half of the schedule for the Seawolves.