Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Hockey Rankings: Top Five Analysis

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A look at the current top five ranked NCAA hockey teams, their schedules, and how they’ve performed.

USCHO.comDivision 1 Men’s Poll December 10, 2012

Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Team
2012-13
Record
Pts. Last Week
1   Boston College (35)  11-2-1  981 2
2   New Hampshire (9)  11-2-2  921  1
3   Notre Dame (3)  13-4-0  902  5
4   Minnesota (3)  11-3-3  815  4
5   Miami  10-3-3  775  3
6   Boston University  10-5-0  727  7
7   Western Michigan  10-3-1  723  7
8   North Dakota  8-5-3 630  9
9   Quinnipiac 12-3-2  541  13
10 Dartmouth  7-2-2  529  10
11 Denver  9-5-2  519  6
12 Cornell  6-3-2  438  11
13 Nebraska Omaha  10-5-1  389  14
14 Union  8-3-4  385  12
15 Yale  6-3-2  246  15
16 Niagara  10-2-3  239  18
17 St. Cloud State  9-7-0  234  17
18 Harvard  4-3-1  126  20
19 Ferris State  7-6-3  116  16
20 Minnesota State  9-5-2  96  NR

Boston College – It’s no surprise to see the Eagles back on top at the No. 1 spot. They began the season at No. 1, and since then have been ranked No. 1 in the NCAA 8 out of 10 weeks.

The returning champs are led by their lethal power play which operates at 27.42%.

Looking forward, the Eagles will have a slightly more difficult schedule in the second portion of their season then they’ve had so far. So far they have played 5 games against currently ranked teams. In the second portion of their season they will have to play 7 games against currently ranked teams, including 3 games against No. 2 New Hampshire and 1 game against No. 4 ranked Minnesota. Those match-ups will be a true test of Boston College’s dominance this season.

New Hampshire – After unseating Boston College from the No. 1 spot last week, the Wild Cats have slipped to No. 2 after losing 3-2 to No. 13 Boston University . Despite being un-ranked when the season began, the Wildcats have steadily climbed the rankings and have become one of the top teams in the NCAA.

Although the Wildcats score an impressive average of 3.60 goals per game, their defensive brand of hockey has been their forte. The team is led by their penalty kill which operates at 96.3%. The Wildcats have allowed just 2 power play goals in 17 games this year.

The Wildcats have played 6 games against currently ranked teams thus far, and going forward will only have to play 4 more games against currently ranked teams. However, 3 of those 4 games will be against No. 1 Boston College, and will be tough battles. Yet, New Hampshire’s strong defense and ability to shut down opponents power plays should give them the advantage over Boston College. Don’t be surprised if New Hampshire unseats Boston College for a second time this season.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame – Over the last two months the Fighting Irish have slowly but surely fought their way from a No. 14 spot at the beginning of the season,  to the No. 3 spot now. They are also No. 1 in the CCHA with a 9-1 conference record.

The Irish are another heavily defensive team. Their goal-tending, average goals allowed per game(1.65), and penalty kill (91.2%) are all some of the top ranked in the NCAA.

Notre Dame has a slightly tougher schedule than most this season. They’ve already played 6 games against currently ranked teams, and will play 7 more games against currently ranked teams later this season. As long they continue playing like they are, their strength of schedule should keep them among the top 5 ranked teams.

Minnesota- The Golden Gophers began the season, and have been ranked for most

of the season, at the No. 2 spot. Yet, since the emergence of teams like New Hampshire, Notre Dame, and Miami as contenders, Minnesota has slipped to No. 4.

Minnesota is an all-around balanced team. Their well-roundedness and ability on both sides of the puck has been, and will continue to be, their major advantage.

The Gophers will have their work cut out for them in the second portion of the season. So far this season they have only played 4 games against currently ranked teams. However, in the second portion of the season they will have plenty of currently ranked match-ups. Minnesota will play 10 games against currently ranked teams in the second portion of their season. This strong schedule could be what makes or breaks the Gophers in future rankings.

Miami – Until now Miami was the top ranked CCHA team in the NCAA rankings. Notre Dame has passed them in the NCAA rankings and the CCHA rankings, but Miami still remains one of the top teams in the country.

The Red Hawks have one of the top defenses in the NCAA, allowing an average of just 1.75 goals per game. They are a bit lacking on special teams however, particularly their power play. If they could find a bit more offensive spark, especially on the man advantage, they could easily find themselves climbing higher than the No. 5 spot.

Miami has had by far the easiest schedule of the current top 5 ranked teams. The Red Hawks have played only 2 games against currently ranked teams so far, and will only play 4 more this season. With this schedule the Red Hawks will have to be consistent and not drop too many games to un-ranked teams, while at the same time making sure that they beat the few ranked teams that they face.

Have a different take on the current top 5? Comment below.

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Tags: Boston College Eagles Hockey Minnesota Golden Gophers Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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