Any time you try to put people, places, or things in order from best to, uhh, less best, you’re bound to elicit reactions from those who disagree with your opinion. For example, leaving Nebraska-Omaha and Boston University off this list won’t go over well with some people. But, hey, the line had to be drawn somewhere and this time around those two teams were just below it.
Quick note about BU: You know how we’ll sometimes say a team is greater than the some of its parts? The Terriers seem like less than the sum of their parts. I don’t have an answer for why that is; just throwing it out there. Anyway, on with the countdown …
1. Minnesota (17-3-4): “He loved the Golden Gophers but he hated all the drawn-out winters,” sang The Hold Steady lead singer Craig Finn, who grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs. If Don Lucia’s squad keeps playing like this — unbeaten in its last 10 and 12-1-4 since Nov. 9 — fans won’t care about the cold and snow.
2. Boston College (14-5-2): The Eagles are 3-4-2 in their last nine games since Nov. 30. Last season, BC went 2-5-1 between Dec. 9-Jan. 21 … then won 19 in a row.
3. Quinnipiac (18-3-3): The Bobcats’ record against foes from the CCHA, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East, and the WCHA is 16-1-3. They’re 2-2-0 against Atlantic Hockey opponents following Tuesday’s win against UConn. Jeremy Langlois (pictured, right) had a pair of assists in that game.
4. Western Michigan (14-6-4): Got to thinking about college hockey in Michigan. If I was asked to rank Michigan’s college hockey teams, I think it’d be Western, Ferris, Lake Superior, Northern, Tech, Michigan, and Michigan State. If you’d been away from college hockey for 15 years and saw that list, you’d be floored.
5. New Hampshire (14-5-2): Here’s a sign your penalty kill is pretty good: The Wildcats have allowed five power-play goals and scored four shorthanded goals. Has a team ever broken even or finished in plus territory in that regard for an entire season?
6. North Dakota (13-7-4): We put Danny Kristo on our 60-Percent Season Review All-America team, but linemate Corban Knight, who enters his team’s weekend series against St. Cloud State with a 19-game point streak, is just as deserving.
7. Miami (13-6-5): Since reeling off an eight-game unbeaten streak from Nov. 3-Dec. 7, the RedHawks are 3-4-2 in their last nine games and, perhaps more alarming, have scored a total of 11 goals during that span.
8. Yale (11-4-3): The Bulldogs don’t lose often, but there’s been a complete absence of defense when they do. In their four defeats they’ve given up 19 goals, compared to 29 goals allowed in their 14 non-losses.
9. UMass Lowell (13-7-1): Who’s hotter than the River Hawks, winners of nine in a row? How about UML freshman goalie Connor Hellebuyck — he’s been victorious in each of his last seven starts and has a 0.95 GAA and a .964 save percentage during that stretch.
10. St. Cloud State (14-10-0): NoDak’s Knight has some competition in the scoring-streak department from the Huskies’ Drew LeBlanc (pictured, right), who enters the weekend with a 13-game point streak. LeBlanc has two goals and 18 assists in those 13 matches.
11. Denver (13-8-4): It’s almost unfathomable to think that prior to last weekend’s back-to-back losses at St. Cloud State, the Pioneers hadn’t been swept by a WCHA opponent since Nov. 14-15, 2008. Back then, Justin Bieber was only annoying to people in his hometown of Stratford, Ont., not the entire world.
12. Notre Dame (15-9-0): For a team that’s far better playing with a lead, the Fighting Irish picked a bad time to struggle offensively — they’ve scored 10 goals in their last five games. On the year, Notre Dame is 2-6 when trailing after one period and 0-9 when behind after two periods.
13. Minnesota State (15-8-3): Since taking over as the Mavericks’ starting goalie on Nov. 10, freshman Stephon Williams has amassed a 12-4-1 record, a 1.69 GAA, a .930 save percentage, and four shutouts.