INCH Power Rankings: Week of INCH 2018

action_nd_morrisIt’s the third year in a row we’ve dusted off the modems and dialed back in for Week of INCH. The 2018 Week of INCH starts with the INCH Power Rankings. We get the privilege of dropping in and starting our rankings from scratch with plenty of data points established throughout the year. Here’s how we see things stacking up.

Thoughts, objections, agreements? Hit us on Twitter at @INCH (Mike Eidelbes) and @INCH_Gladdy (Joe Gladziszewski).

1. NOTRE DAME
20-5-1 (14-2-0-0 B1G) LAST WEEK: L at Minnesota, 1-0 ot; W at Minnesota 4-1. THIS WEEK: at Penn State, at Penn State

The recently concluded 16-game winning streak was pretty impressive. So, too, was a 10-game road win streak that ended with a 1-0 overtime loss at Minnesota last Friday. And goalie Cale Morris (pictured above) can play a little bit, too.

2. CORNELL
18-2-1 (12-1-1 ECAC Hockey) LAST WEEK: W at Harvard, 3-0; W at Dartmouth, 3-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Union, vs. Rensselaer

Resist the urge to see 30 goals against in 21 games and say, “Same ‘ol Cornell.” The Big Red are ninth in the nation in scoring despite not having a single player averaging a point per game.

3. OHIO STATE
17-5-4 (10-5-1-0 B1G) LAST WEEK: W vs. Michigan, 4-0; W vs. Michigan, 5-3. THIS WEEK: vs. Michigan State, vs. Michigan State

Note to self: Pay more attention to Tanner Laczynski. The Buckeyes are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games; Laczynski, their leading scorer, has six goals and 10 assists during that span. Additional note to self: Learn how to spell “Laczynski” without looking.

4. DENVER
14-6-6 (8-4-4 3/0 NCHA) LAST WEEK: T at North Dakota, 3-3 ot; T at North Dakota, 1-1 ot. THIS WEEK: vs. Minnesota Duluth, vs. Minnesota Duluth

Is there a post-national championship hangover? If there is, it’s not affecting Henrik Borgstrom (16 goals and 20 assists in 23 games). If there is and it is affecting him, we should all be so lucky to be that productive when hungover.

5. CLARKSON
19-4-3 (11-1-2 ECAC Hockey) LAST WEEK: W vs. Yale, 4-1; T vs. Brown, 2-2 ot. THIS WEEK: at Quinnipiac, at Princeton

The Golden Knights are the biggest surprise of this season. A 14-game mid-season winning streak got most of the attention, but Clarkson took off right away with wins over Penn State, Michigan, Western Michigan, Providence, and Union before the first Sunday in November.

6. MINNESOTA STATE
19-7-0 (15-5-0 0/0 WCHA) LAST WEEK: W vs. Minnesota Duluth, 1-0; W vs. U.S. Under-18s, 5-3 (Ex.). THIS WEEK: vs. Alaska Anchorage, vs. Alaska Anchorage

It’s not fair to pin personal production to team success, but it makes for an interesting rankings blurb. The Mavericks are 18-2-0 when leading scorer C.J. Suess scores at least one point and 1-5-0 when he’s blanked.

7. PROVIDENCE
17-8-3 (10-5-3 Hockey East) LAST WEEK: T at Northeastern, 4-4 ot; W vs. Northeastern, 2-1 ot. THIS WEEK: at Vermont, at Vermont

Currently third in Hockey East, we feel bullish on this Providence team that is 7-1-2 in its last 10 games. Erik Foley has 13 goals and Brian Pinho, Josh Wilkins, and Kasper Bjorkqvist all have 11 goals. Two of its three non-league losses came to Clarkson.

8. ST CLOUD STATE
15-6-3 (9-4-1 0/0 NCHA) LAST WEEK: L at Minnesota Duluth, 5-1; W at Minnesota Duluth 2-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Omaha, vs. Omaha

The Huskies have just three skaters among the nation’s top 100 point-getters — as a comparison, Denver has three in the top 19 in that category. But SCSU averages about a quarter of a goal per game more than DU thanks in large part to 15 skaters with 10 or more points.

9. NORTHEASTERN
15-7-4 (11-5-2 Hockey East) LAST WEEK: T vs. Providence, 4-4 ot; L at Providence, 2-1 ot. THIS WEEK: vs. New Hampshire

When you’ve got two of the top-four scorers in the country in points-per-game in Dylan Sikura and Adam Gaudette, it’s a good place to start. Frequent linemate Nolan Stevens has 16 goals. But after that, the next-best goal output is seven goals from Grant Jozefek.

10. MINNESOTA DULUTH
14-11-3 (8-8-0 0/0 NCHA) LAST WEEK: W vs. St. Cloud State, 5-1; L vs. St. Cloud State, 2-1. THIS WEEK: at Denver, at Denver

Quick, who’s the nation’s leading scorer among freshman defensemen? NHL first-rounder Cole Makar of UMass? Michigan’s Quinn Hughes, a likely NHL first-rounder in 2018? Nah, it’s the Bulldogs’ Scott Perunovich, with six goals and 18 assists in 26 games.

11. MINNESOTA
16-13-1 (7-10-1-1 B1G) LAST WEEK: W vs. Notre Dame, 1-0 ot; L vs. Notre Dame, 4-1. THIS WEEK: Off

He’s not eligible for national statistical rankings yet; if he were, midseason addition Mat Robson would stand fourth in the nation in goals against average (1.73) and fifth in save percentage (.935).

12. NORTH DAKOTA
12-8-8 (6-6-4 0/2 NCHA) LAST WEEK: T vs. Denver, 3-3 ot; T vs. Denver 1-1 ot. THIS WEEK: Off

Strange to see the Fighting Hawks rank 33rd nationally in scoring offense at 2.86 goals per game, but NoDak has managed to stay afloat thanks to a stout defense led by blueliners Christian Wolanin and Colton Poolman.

13. WISCONSIN
13-12-4 (7-8-3-1 B1G) LAST WEEK: W vs. Penn State, 4-2; T vs. Penn State, 4-4 ot. THIS WEEK: at Michigan, at Michigan

Apropos of a team just barely above the .500 mark, the Badgers haven’t had a winning streak of longer than three games this season, nor have they lost more than three consecutive games in a row.

14. BOSTON COLLEGE
13-10-3 (13-5-0 Hockey East) LAST WEEK: W vs. Massachusetts, 2-1; L at UMass Lowell, 3-2; W vs. UMass Lowell, 5-2. THIS WEEK: at Connecticut

Standings will show Boston College in first place in Hockey East. Not bad. Further examination will show BC with an 0-5-3 record in eight non-conference games in which they were outscored 31-17. The Eagles have a first-round Beanpot matchup against Northeastern next Monday.

15. OMAHA
14-11-1 (7-9-0 0/0 NCHC) LAST WEEK: W vs. Western Michigan, 6-2; W vs. Western Michigan, 7-3. THIS WEEK: at St. Cloud State, at St. Cloud State

More than most others, this team covets a home-ice playoff series. In its last eight home games, Omaha has scored 47 goals. On the other side, Omaha has been shut out in its last three road games.

16. PENN STATE
13-11-4 (6-8-4-2 B1G) LAST WEEK: L at Wisconsin, 4-2; T at Wisconsin, 4-4 ot. THIS WEEK: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Notre Dame

Penn State was the first team this season to reach 100 total goals scored, but their production has slowed down lately. The Nittany Lions have just nine goals in their last five games and are 0-4-1 in that stretch. That skid followed an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3).

17. WESTERN MICHIGAN
13-12-1 (8-8-0 0/0 NCHC) LAST WEEK: L at Omaha, 6-2; L at Omaha, 7-3. THIS WEEK: at Miami, at Miami

The Broncos started the year 9-5-1; they’re 4-8-0 since. With high-scoring forwards Wade Allison and Colt Conrad shelved due to injuries, WMU’s hopes of a second consecutive NCAA Tournament trip appear to be fleeting.

18. BOWLING GREEN
16-8-6 (13-4-5 0/2 WCHA) LAST WEEK: W at Lake Superior State, 5-3; W at Lake Superior State, 3-2. THIS WEEK: vs. Michigan Tech, vs. Michigan Tech

One of the coolest evolving rivalries that has come from conference realignment (to us at least) is the Bowling Green vs. Michigan Tech matchups that have taken on added importance over the last couple of years. MTU won the WCHA title game last year in double-overtime. BG answered this season with a win and tie at Houghton in November and a victory in the GLI title game in Detroit in January. They’ll meet up in Bowling Green this weekend.

19. BEMIDJI STATE
14-8-6 (11-5-4 0/2 NCHA) LAST WEEK: L at Alabama Huntsville, 5-1; W at Alabama Huntsville, 5-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Lake Superior State, vs. Lake Superior State

Senior goaltender Michael Bitzer’s stellar four-year run in goal for the Beavers is drawing to a close. With career numbers of 63 wins, 21 shutouts, a 1.94 goals against average, and a .923 save percentage, you’d be hard pressed to find BSU fans who have quibbles with Bitz.

20. UNION
15-12-1 (10-4-0 ECAC Hockey) LAST WEEK: W vs. Rensselaer, 4-3. THIS WEEK: at Cornell, at Colgate

In debating Union’s viability for this space, we were struck by its current four-game winning streak, a win and tie at North Dakota in late November, and an admitted mulligan theory after a brutal 0-5-0 start to the year. The Dutchmen get a chance to further prove themselves this weekend at Cornell and Colgate.

Bubble-licious – Boston University, Harvard, Michigan, Northern Michigan, UMass Lowell

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