What a difference a year makes. At the start
and end of the 2010-11 season, a group of five teams comprised
the top five teams in both the Preseason Great 58 as well
as the final edition of the INCH Power Rankings, just in a
different order. This time around, three of the preseason
top five didn't even make the final group of 20 in the INCH
Power Rankings. It's a fitting snapshot of a highly unpredictable
season. This final edition of the INCH Power Rankings includes
a nod to how things looked at the
beginning of the year as well as a note on how teams arrived
at their final destinations.
Here's how the Inside College Hockey editors
and staff rank the nation's top teams (along with a note for
|Like teams of BC's recent past, this team figured out
its game and peaked for the end of the season, led by
goalie Parker Milner who was stellar over the final three
months of the year.
(19-7-1 Hockey East, 1st)
|Career years from seniors Chad Billins, Jordie Johnston,
and Taylor Nelson propelled the Bulldogs to the program’s
second-ever CCHA regular-season title and an appearance
in the NCAA title game.
(16-7-5 CCHA, 1st)
|The youngsters came to play: Of the Gophers’ top
ten scorers, eight were freshmen or sophomores. Forwards
Erik Haula, Kyle Rau, and Nick Bjugstad and defenseman
Nate Schmidt all scored more than 40 points.
(20-8-0 WCHA, 1st)
|A team that knows what it does best, Union relied on
a lethal power play, great top line, and excellent goaltender
to sweep ECAC Hockey regular season and playoff titles
and advance to the Frozen Four for the first time as a
Division I program.
ECAC Hockey, 1st)
|Decimated by injuries, ineligibility, and defections,
coach Dave Hakstol managed to cobble together a lineup
out of spare parts but the team still managed to win the
WCHA playoff championship and get to the NCAA West Regional
(16-11-1 WCHA, 4th)
|Despite big losses from a national championship-winning
team (Mike Connolly, Justin Faulk), the Bulldogs avoided
post-title malaise, crafting a 22-game unbeaten streak
by following the lead of 2012 Hobey Baker Award winner
Jack Connolly and high-scoring forwards J.T. Brown and
(16-7-5 WCHA, 2nd)
|He didn’t win the Hobey Baker Award, but one could
argue that no player was more important to his team that
goaltender Shawn Hunwick was to the Wolverines. Michigan
also got a spark when defenseman Jon Merrill returned
to the lineup midway through the season.
(15-9-4 CCHA, 2nd)
|Where would the Pioneers have been without Juha Olkinuora?
The freshman goaltender was pressed into service early
and didn’t disappoint, posting a 2.18 goals-against
average and a .924 save percentage.
(16-8-4 WCHA, 3rd)
|Reilly Smith put the RedHawks on his back after an atrocious
2-6-0 start and carried the team until a heralded freshman
class led by forwards Austin Czarnik and Jimmy Mullin
found its comfort zone late in the season.
(15-11-2 CCHA, 4th)
|When Jeff Blashill left Kalamazoo for an
assistant coaching gig with the Detroit Red Wings, some
thought the magic of the 2010-11 season was gone. Enter
former NHL coach Andy Murray, who guided Western to the
CCHA playoff title and a second straight NCAA Tournament
(14-10-4 CCHA, 3rd)
|A young roster acclimated itself to college hockey in
the early going and the Big Red had a consistent season.
Making a run at conference titles and qualifying for the
NCAA Tournament will help this team down the road, as
Cornell is just a year or two away from being a legit
national title threat.
ECAC Hockey, 2nd)
|Under first-year coach Norm Bazin, the River Hawks improved
in all aspects. Six players had 29 or more points and
Doug Carr emerged as one of the best goalies in college
(17-9-1 Hockey East, t-2nd)
|Behind a formidable goaltending duo of Stephen Caple
and Jason Torf, the Falcons won the Atlantic Hockey regular-season
and playoff championships and gave eventual champion Boston
College a scare in the opening round of the NCAA Northeast
(15-6-6 Atlantic Hockey, 1st)
|The headlines all season were about what kind of trouble
BU players were getting into, but the on-ice results were
great. An NCAA Tournament appearance for the Terriers
highlighted a 23-win campaign.
(17-9-1 Hockey East, t-2nd)
|The top line of Spencer Abbott, Joey Diamond and Brian
Flynn made the headlines and Maine was in the Hockey East
hunt all season long. Abbott was a Hobey Hat Trick finalist,
and led the nation in scoring.
(15-10-2 Hockey East, 4th)
|Alex Killorn led the way up front and had an All-American
campaign in his senior season and Harvard's skill was
able to translate into tons of power-play goals. The Crimson
were in lots of tight games, with 11 ties on the year.
(8-5-9 ECAC Hockey, 3rd)
|With All-American defenseman Torey Krug, a pair of solid
goaltenders, and a lineup full of pluggers, the Spartans
returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since
2008. Coach Tom Anastos has State headed in the right
(14-11-3 CCHA, 5th)
|After finishing 12th in ECAC Hockey one year earlier,
the Raiders moved back toward the top of the standings
paced by Austin Smith, who had one of the most outstanding
individual campaigns (36 goals) in recent college hockey
(11-10-1 ECAC Hockey, 4th)
|This was one of the best teams in the country for the
first half of the season, and was the last team in all
of Division I hockey to suffer a loss, a 2-1 overtime
defeat on Dec. 2, in Merrimack's 11th game of the year.
(13-9-5 Hockey East, 5th)
|The Tigers were kept away from their ultimate goals
by conference rival Air Force, but a new rink project
was announced and RIT won the Catamount Cup at Vermont,
which included a win over national finalist Ferris State.
(14-7-6 Atlantic Hockey, t-3rd)