After spending the entire month of November perched comfortably atop the college hockey world, Wisconsin suffered a stunning weekend sweep in East Lansing to 11th-ranked Michigan State, creating a compelling power vacuum around the sport.
North Dakota wrestles back the top spot from the Badgers after a convincing performance against Miami (OH), while the Hockey East conference makes continued gains in the rankings. Here’s a complete look at how NCAA Digital’s Jordan Menard made sense of a hectic weekend in college hockey
𝐌𝐄𝐍’𝐒 𝐏𝐎𝐖𝐄𝐑 𝟓 🏒
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) November 20, 2023
1. North Dakota (Previous: 2)
Outside of an unsightly two-week stretch where North Dakota suffered losses to Minnesota, Boston and Minnesota State (shootout), the Fighting Hawks have looked utterly dominant through the first third of their season, a trend that continued this past weekend in assured wins over Miami (OH) that extended their win streak to five games.
North Dakota has been uniquely unselfish on the ice with five players tallying at least nine points thus far on the young season, and this collective attitude was on full display against the Red Hawks last Friday — six different goal scorers helped ND build a 6-2 lead before allowing a pair of third-period consolation goals. The Fighting Hawks showed no such mercy the following afternoon, as two goals from Riese Gaber fueled a four-goal first period, effectively ending the match after 20 minutes, and Jayden Perron fired another home in the third to seal a 5-1 win.
After spending the holiday weekend in Grand Forks battling Bemidji State, ND will travel out to Denver for a massive two-game series against the Pios Dec. 2-3.
2. Boston College (Previous: 3)
Had the Eagles taken care of business in Maine the weekend before, it very well could’ve been BC that vaulted into the top spot at the expense of Wisconsin with a resume otherwise featuring a sweep over Michigan State and a lone blemish against Denver — the Eagles ultimately managed just a draw and a loss against the Black Bears. BC responded to adversity admirably this past weekend, staving off the Huskies in overtime from Chestnut Hill Friday before traveling to their southern neighbors the next afternoon for a 3-0 win.
Smooth seas quickly devolved into dire straits, as Boston College let a 3-1 first period advantage evaporate as UConn scored three goals in just 13 minutes. Cutter Gauthier leveled the match with a power play goal in the third period, only to one-up his own heroism by cleaning up a goal line scramble just 30 seconds before the end of overtime to seal a 5-4 victory. Will Smith’s early goal opened the scoring Saturday, and Gauthier again helped smooth over a nervy finish, advancing the puck from his own third and firing into the top-right corner to double BC’s advantage four minutes before time. Oskar Jellvik scored into an empty net, clinching a 3-0 margin.
The homebody Eagles — BC hasn’t played outside of New England this season, finally get to rack up the frequent flyer miles, traveling to South Bend for a road tilt against the Irish Friday before hurrying back to Logan for a cross-town rivalry with Harvard Sunday.
3. Wisconsin (Previous: 1)
While a weekend sweep against the Spartans was hardly a desired outcome, Wisconsin ran face first into an in-form, green-and-white buzzsaw — Michigan State hasn’t lost a game since October — and a noted home-court advantage — Michigan State hasn’t lost all year at the Munn Ice Arena. Wisconsin also comes down to Earth after one of the more remarkable three-game stretches of hockey you’ll see, winning six consecutive games against top-20 opposition.
The Badgers first took down No. 17 Michigan Tech in a pair of comfortable victories on the road before bolding surging into Minneapolis and wrestling the top spot away from then-No. 1 Minnesota with a pair of upset wins, highlighted by a two-goal performance by Simon Tassy during the second leg that fueled a heart-racing 3-2 victory. Refueling with a famous Wisconsin hangover cure, Wisconsin showed no emotional let down the following weekend against Michigan, jumping out to early leads against the No. 3 Wolverines and securing a pair of hard-fought, one-goal victories.
Wisconsin enjoys a brief reprieve from a dogged Big Ten schedule, hosting Alaska-Anchorage for Thanksgiving weekend before looming matchups against Ohio State and Penn State.
4. Denver (Previous: NR)
The Pioneers had been singing the Frontier trail over the last eight games, scoring at least four goals in each contest and notching consecutive 8-4 barn-burning victories over Arizona State and Omaha respectively. Denver finally fell short of their four-goal threshold at a particularly inopportune time Saturday, falling in a 4-3 thriller during its second leg against Omaha.
Denver allowed Omaha to score four goals in a disastrous second period, and while the Pios pulled one back and probably deserved a better result, outshooting Omaha 26-19, they ultimately fell short and posted their third loss on the year. If the Pioneers can tighten up a bit on the defensive end, allowing 4.5 goals themselves over the last four contests, they certainly have all the firepower needed to hang with North Dakota visiting in two weeks.
5. Boston University (Previous: NR)
The No. 1 Preseason team had struggled to live up to expectations early on in the 2023-24 campaign, sparing their blushes against Bentley in overtime before losing consecutive games in shocking fashion to New Hampshire and Notre Dame and falling to 1-2. Since then, however, the Terriers haven’ t lost a game in regulation and have now won four games on the trot, earning their way back into Menard’s Power 5.
Most recently, it was a pair of fiercely-contested victories against the same Maine team that felled their inner-city rivals Boston College just a week prior. A goal and an assist from Ryan Greene Friday powered Boston to an early 3-1 lead, — all three goals were scored on power plays ultimately surviving a nervy final 10 minutes after Maine halved the deficit. Similar story Saturday as the Terriers managed to take a 3-1, and later a 5-2, lead in the third period, again surviving a furious onslaught from the Black Bears to claim a 5-4 victory.
Boston’s newfound resurgence will be put to the test in the world’s greatest arena, first playing defending champs Quinnipiac on Wednesday before taking on Cornell in Madison Square Garden on Saturday.