1 | DENVER
» RECORD: 11-2-3 » LAST WEEK: 1
The Pioneers are riding a 14-game unbeaten streak into the biggest weekend of their season against Minnesota Duluth. Friday's game will be televised on ASN. (Check your local listings.) DU retained the Gold Pan Trophy after sweeping Colorado College in a home and home with back to back 3-1 victories. It was all the more impressive as Denver's leading scoring Henrik Borgstrom missed the series due to an undisclosed illness. Whatever it is, you hope he can make it back to the lineup for the heavily anticipated 1 vs 2 matchup this weekend. The Pios got production up and down the lineup with six different goal-scorers for as many goals.
2 | MINNESOTA DULUTH
» RECORD: 10-2-2 » LAST WEEK: 2
The Bulldogs were idle again, which is a big reason why the No. 1 team in the USCHO poll are still sitting at No. 2 in the Elite Eight. Meanwhile, Denver continues to win, which is why the Pios deserve the No. 1 spot. But that could change after this weekend's series between these two teams, including Friday on ASN. Both teams are coached so well, with Scott Sandelin at UMD and Jim Montgomery at DU this promises to live up to the hype. You look up and down the rosters for both teams and they matchup so well from the net out. Game 1 in this Friday on ASN.
3 | BOSTON UNIVERSITY
» RECORD: 8-4-2 » LAST WEEK: 3
The Terriers beat and tied a struggling Providence College team desperate for points. The fact that BU continues to find ways to win without some of their best players shows how deep this team is. Once they get back to full strength, there is no doubt in my mind the Terriers will go on a second-half tear. Patrick Harper slowed down a bit this weekend, but he was picked up by Nick Olsson and Patrick Curry, who each had 4 points. Jake Oettinger made 68 saves in the two games and allowed just one tally each night.
4 | PENN STATE
» RECORD: 13-1-1 » LAST WEEK: 7
As we've been saying for weeks, the Nittany Lions are for real. A sweep of Michigan this weekend left no dispute. PSU held the Wolverines to a goal each night. Penn State's shoot-from-anywhere-and-everywhere style leads the nation with 4.9 goals per game. Guy Gadowsky's system works. The Nittany Lions shoot more than anyone in the country by far, but to do that they must possess the puck for a good portion of the game. That's exactly what they do. While the football team was left out in the cold for the four-team College Football Playoff, the hockey team might make a run at the Frozen Four.
5 | BOSTON COLLEGE
» RECORD: 12-5-1 » LAST WEEK: 6
After beating Northeastern early in the week the Eagles geared up for the first College Hockey Showdown at Madison Square Garden against North Dakota. Despite a 4-3 loss, it was a surreal experience for the players, coaches and everyone involved. "Everything about the event was Frozen Four-ish to me," BC coach Jerry York said. "The stage is a big stage, two good teams. So it mirrored a lot — it wasn't a typical regular-season game for me, it was more a tournament atmosphere." Boston College plays two tough games this week against Northeastern and Notre Dame before the holiday break.
6 | HARVARD
» RECORD: 8-2-1 » LAST WEEK: Not ranked
The Crimson swept the two ECAC Hockey North Country schools in Clarkson and St. Lawrence for the first time since 2002. They scored 11 goals over the weekend and average roughly 4.5 a game, which ranks third in DI. They also have the best power play conversion rate in the country at just over 30%. Adam Fox, the Calgary Flames draft pick, is one of the best puck moving D men in the country. The only reason it took until now for the Crimson to get the national attention was because they needed to play more games. Now that they have, people can really start to rave about Ted Donato's squad.
7 | QUINNIPIAC
» RECORD: 10-5-2 » LAST WEEK: 4
The consistent Bobcats fans have grown accustomed to are anything but this year. Quinnipiac beat up on RPI on Friday then dropped a tough game to Union, the 2014 national champions. The Bobcats outshot the Dutchmen 54-17 and clearly outplayed them but couldn't find the net. Quinnipiac also has run into some hot goaltenders. QU's next opponent is Princeton, which swept a good Bemidji State team a few weeks ago. If the Bobcats want to stay in the Elite Eight, they cannot slip up against Princeton.
8 | OHIO STATE
» RECORD: 9-2-4 » LAST WEEK: Not ranked
The Buckeyes split with Minnesota over the weekend in two games that featured a ton of scoring. Ohio State has the nation's second best offense (4.53 gpg) and the Buckeyes spread it out. Nine players scored goals against Minnesota, led by freshman Tanner Laczynski, who has 22 points on the year. Remember, the Buckeyes usually finish strong, so their early success bodes well.
» Minnesota, UMass Lowell
Photo courtesy Shannon Valerio/Denver Athletics