Editor's note: These rankings were released Jan. 22.
In a year that teams are trying to establish themselves among the nation's elite, another weekend passes where split series prevail and a few teams raise their profile. It's going to be a crazy run down the stretch.
Here's how the Inside College Hockey editors and staff rank the nation's top teams (along with a note for each team).
1. Minnesota Duluth (17-4-3, 11-3-2 WCHA)
Of note: Including this past weekend's nonconference wins against Alabama-Huntsville, the Bulldogs have played six one-goal games this season -- all at home.
2. Boston University (15-6-1, 12-4-1 Hockey East)
Of note: Matt Nieto had six points on BU's 14 goals in a dominant weekend sweep of Providence. The Terriers have won five games in a row.
3. Minnesota (17-9-1, 13-5-0 WCHA)
Of note: Playing in just his eighth game of the season, little-used senior forward Nico Sacchetti scored his first goal of the year Saturday, the game-winner in the Gophers' 2-1 win against Colorado College.
4. Merrimack (13-5-5, 9-4-3 Hockey East)
Of note: Seldom-used forward John Heffernan slotted into the lineup Saturday night and paid dividends by scoring the OT winner at New Hampshire on Saturday night.
5. Cornell (11-4-4, 8-1-3 ECAC Hockey)
Of note: The Big Red held Harvard's nation-leading power play to just one goal in five opportunities in a 2-2 tie on Saturday night at Lynah Rink.
6. Notre Dame (14-9-3, 9-6-3 CCHA)
Of note: Sophomore forward T.J. Tynan was held scoreless in Saturday's 2-1 loss to visiting Michigan, snapping a five-game point streak during which he recorded three goals and five assists.
7. Union (13-6-6, 7-3-3 ECAC)
Of note: The Dutchmen can't be hoping for a possible future matchup against Brown in the postseason, as Union dropped a 2-1 decision at home to the Bears on Nov. 11 and lost 3-2 at Brown this past weekend.
8. Ohio State (14-7-4, 10-6-4 CCHA)
Of note: The Buckeyes, who lost and tied against Ferris State in Columbus this past weekend, are 0-3-3 in their past six games, their longest winless skid since going 0-10-1 between Oct. 19-Nov. 23, 2007.
9. Boston College (14-10-1, 10-7-1 Hockey East)
Of note: Almost two years to the date, Boston College lost back-to-back Hockey East games on the same weekend. The last time it happened was Jan. 22-23, 2010 against Boston University and UMass Lowell.
10. UMass Lowell (14-6-0, 9-5-0 Hockey East)
Of note: Derek Arnold, who had a goal in each game this past weekend, has 10 goals on the year as a sophomore. That ranks second on the team, and excessively surpasses his two-goal total as a freshman.
11. Colorado College (14-9-1, 11-7-0 WCHA)
Of note: Even though he's got a 2-1-0 record, sophomore goaltender Josh Thorimbert has been nearly perfect in his last phree starts, stopping 104 of the 108 shots he's faced, including 72 of 75 in the Tigers' split at Minnesota this past weekend.
12. Denver (13-8-3, 8-5-3 WCHA)
Of note: Freshman defenseman Joey LaLeggia, whose 24 points leads NCAA rookie rearguards and ranks third among all newcomers, enters the Pioneers' series at Alaska Anchorage with a six-game point streak -- he's scored three goals and eight assists during that span.
13. Michigan (15-9-4 , 9-7-4 CCHA)
Of note: Friday's 3-1 loss at Notre Dame snapped the Wolverines' nine-game unbeaten streak, their longest since winning 12 straight early in the 2007-08 season. Michigan has this weekend off to prepare for a suddenly monster series against Miami Feb. 3-4.
14. Miami (Ohio) (14-10-2, 10-8-2 CCHA)
Of note: Reilly Smith is officially on fire: The junior wing scored all of Miami's goals in Friday's 3-1 win against visiting Western Michigan and added another in Saturday's 4-0 RedHawk win. Smith has six goals and two assists in his past five games.
15. Western Michigan (12-9-5, 9-6-3 CCHA)
Of note: With 3-1 and 4-0 losses at Miami this past weekend, the Broncos fell to 1-9-3 this season in games in which they score fewer than two goals. The lone win was a 2-1 OT victory at St. Cloud State on Dec. 30.
16. Ferris State (15-8-3, 9-6-3 CCHA)
Of note: The Bulldogs extended their unbeaten streak to six games with a 4-3 win and 3-3 tie at Ohio State this past weekend. Ferris State is 13-0-2 this season in games in which it scores three or more goals.
17. Maine (12-8-3, 9-7-2 Hockey East)
Of note: Scoring 11 goals in a conference sweep over a weekend is rare unless you're Maine, which has pulled it off twice this year against Vermont (Dec. 2-3) and BC (this week).
18. North Dakota (13-10-2, 9-9-0 WCHA)
Of note: With a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 14 and Friday's 3-1 loss at St. Cloud State, North Dakota dropped consecutive games for this first time since being swept by the Gophers in Minneapolis Nov. 4-5.
19. Nebraska-Omaha (12-10-4, 9-6-3 WCHA)
Of note: Oh, there's something to be said for being slightly above average in America. Saturday's OT loss at Minnesota State kept UNO from winning three in a row for the first time since late October, but the Mavs are fourth in the WCHA largely because they haven't lost consecutive games since early October.
20. Quinnipiac (13-8-5, 5-5-4 ECAC Hockey)
Of note: How do you break up a two-week schedule gap in late January? Bust out of practice early for a bowling excursion organized by the head coach, as Quinnipiac did Friday night.
Dropped out: Colgate
Bubblelicious: Colgate, Michigan State, Wisconsin
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