Black Bears Attempt To Unseat North Dakota in D1 Poll

With a championship in its new Subway Holiday Classic tournament, North Dakota maintained its hold on first place in this week’s USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll. However, No. 2 Maine trails by just a single point after a narrow 3-2 win over Cornell in the Everblades College Classic, held in Estero, Florida.

Colorado College was idle during this weekend, which was dominated by tournament play, but defeated visiting Western Michigan twice in the only action of last weekend. With the wins, the Tigers snagged a lone first-place vote and the No. 3 ranking in the country.

This sets up an intriguing match-up for next weekend, as No. 1 North Dakota hosts No. 3 Colorado College for a pair of games, in what promises to be the toughest series yet for the Fighting Sioux. The main criticism of North Dakota’s outstanding 18-1-1 record is that it has been against weaker opponents; only one of the 20 games has been against a team currently ranked in the top 15. The iron of the schedule is coming up, as the Sioux play eight of their next twelve games against ranked squads.

Minnesota also won its own tournament in dramatic fashion, thrilling home fans with a 2-1 overtime victory against No. 7 Boston College in the Dodge Holiday Classic. With two wins, the Gophers improve to 11-4-4 and climb to No. 4. Boston College has also lost four games, but all of those losses have been by a single point and three of them have come in overtime.

No. 8 Denver also won its tournament, making WCHA teams 6-0 in tournament games that they hosted. The Pioneers won the Denver Cup convincingly with a pair of shutouts, dropping No. 14 Miami 6-0 before polishing of No. 6 New Hampshire 4-0 in the title bout. Denver has next week off.

The holiday tournaments seem to be a curse for the No. 5 Cornell Big Red and head coach Mike Schafer. After losing a squeaker, 3-2, to Maine in Florida, Cornell lost the consolation game 1-0 to No. 9 Ohio State. Last year in the same tournament, Cornell boasted a 9-2-1 first half record before it lost a heartbreaker to Northern Michigan, 4-3 in double overtime, and was shutout by Ohio State 2-0 the next day. This season, the losses were just numbers two and three for the Big Red, which fell to No. 5 this week, but are in good position to make a second-half run in the ECAC.

The USCHO.com Poll is compiled by U.S. College Hockey Online, and consists of 40 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 12 beat writers from across the country. The poll is published weekly by the Associated Press.

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