The latest poll still has the Spartans outside the top 20, however six other CCHA teams remain ranked.
- Boston College
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Notre Dame
- Western Michigan
- Boston University
- Colorado College
- St. Cloud State
- St. Lawernece
- Northern Michigan
- Ferris State
Michigan State (5-5-1) – The Spartans started the season at No.16 but are no longer ranked. This fall from the rankings is mostly due to the Spartans youth and inexperience. Michigan State lost 10 letter winners during the off-season and 45% of their scoring from last year. Now 16 of Michigan State’s 27 players are underclassmen. However, climbing back into the rankings is not out of the question for Michigan State. They’ve proved they can shut down rival ranked teams like Michigan, and will have a chance to prove it again. They face No. 4 Miami, No. 8 Notre Dame, and No. 20 Ferris State before the Great Lakes Invitational in December. A few wins against these ranked teams could easily propel the Spartans back into the top 20.
Top Ranked Teams CCHA Teams
Miami (6-2-2) – Miami’s well rounded team has climbed from No. 9 to No. 4. They also lead the CCHA in conference play with 3-2-1 record. The Red Hawks seem to be proficient on all areas of the ice. Their only noticeable weakness is their lack of discipline. Miami ranks #6 in the NCAA in penalty minutes, averaging 16.8 penalty minutes a game. However, the Red Hawks opponents have yet to exploit this. Their penalty kill ranks #17 in the country at 86.5% proficiency As long as their PK keeps up the Red Hawks will continue to dominate. And that shouldn’t be a problem in the next few weeks. Miami will have all unranked opponents before the Three Rivers Classic in December. Don’t expect them to slip in the rankings anytime soon.
Notre Dame (6-3-0) – Notre Dame has fought their way from No. 14 to No. 8 over the last five weeks, and the Fighting Irish have done their best fighting in the defensive zone. With an impressive 1.78 goals against per game the Notre Dame defense ranks #3 in the NCAA. This tough defense has shown up in their special teams as well. The Notre Dame penalty kill ranks #8 in the country at 89.2% effectiveness. The Irish have a relatively easy schedule ahead of them. The only ranked teams they play before the December break are No. 6 North Dakota and No. 13 Michigan. Run-and-gun Michigan should be an easy win for the defensive-minded Irish, however No. 6 North Dakota will likely pose more of a challenge.
Western Michigan (5-2-1) – It seems that the Bronco’s preseason ranking was fairly accurate, as they have only moved up one spot, from No. 10 to No. 9. Their strength has been their defense, which ranks #8 in the country and allows an average of just 2 goals against per game. Their defensive game has been disciplined as well, with an average of just 11 penalty minutes a game. Western Michigan has a fairly easy schedule ahead of them. They face No. 13 Michigan, No. 19 Northern Michigan, and No. 20 Ferris State before the Great Lakes Invitational. The biggest threat comes from No. 13 Michigan, however the Bronco’s strong defense should give them the advantage in the match-up.
Michigan (4-4-1) – The Wolverines came into the season with an impressive No. 3 ranking, but have dropped to No. 13. Team captain and top NCAA goal scorer, A.J. Treais, leads Michigan’s high-powered offense, which ranks #2 in the country at an average of 4.22 goals scored per game. Yet, the Wolverines tend to allow just as many goals as they score. Michigan’s defense is ranked at a less impressive #51 in the NCAA, allowing an average of 3.56 goals per game. This can easily be attributed to Michigan’s two freshman goaltenders, however youth in net is not entirely to blame. The loss of multiple defenseman to injury has contributed as well, and has left the Michigan defense severely lacking in depth. The offense will have to continue to pick up the slack, especially with the tough match-ups they have ahead of them. They face No. 8 Cornell, No. 9 Notre Dame, and No. 10 Western Michigan before the Great Lakes Invitational in December. Notre Dame and Western Michigan’s strong defenses, in particular, could pose a serious problem for Michigan.