The patented North Dakota second-half surge might look a little different this year, but the Sioux are definitely peaking toward the end of the season again.
After five weeks outside the top five of the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll, North Dakota is back in, checking in Monday at No. 5 and with a seven-game winning streak intact headed into the WCHA playoffs.
Related link: USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll: March 8, 2010
Under coach Dave Hakstol, the Sioux have made it a habit to pull things together after the holiday break and be a formidable team by the end of the season. When they started 7-1-1 this season, that formula was looking different. Same when they went 1-5 in a six-game stretch in January and February.
But since that down period, North Dakota is 7-0, with series sweeps of Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado College and Michigan Tech.
Denver and Miami nearly split the first-place votes this week after the Pioneers briefly lost the No. 1 spot in the PairWise Rankings following a 2-1 loss to Colorado College last Friday.
But they rebounded with a 7-3 victory the next day and took 26 of the poll’s 50 first-place votes to maintain the top spot according to the panel of voters. Miami and Wisconsin stayed second and third, respectively, and Boston College moved up a spot to fourth.
Yale (no change), St. Cloud State (down three), Bemidji State (no change), Cornell (no change) and Michigan State (up one) round out the top 10.
Massachusetts-Lowell regained a spot in the top 20, unseating Maine. The River Hawks play at the Black Bears in a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series starting Friday.
There are four best-of-three conference playoff series between ranked teams this weekend, all starting Friday:
• No. 11 New Hampshire hosts No. 19 Vermont in Hockey East;
• No. 16 Northern Michigan hosts No. 12 Alaska in the CCHA;
• No. 13 Ferris State hosts No. 18 Nebraska-Omaha in the CCHA;
• and No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth hosts No. 15 Colorado College in the WCHA.