April 9, 2012
INCH Power Rankings

Related Links
Last Week's INCH Power Rankings
USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Poll
USCHO.com/CSTV Poll

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 each team).

No. Team

Preseason
Great 58

What Went Right
1. Boston College
11
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.
33-10-1 (19-7-1 Hockey East, 1st)
2. Ferris State
27
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.
26-12-5 (16-7-5 CCHA, 1st)
3. Minnesota
10
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.
28-14-1 (20-8-0 WCHA, 1st)
4. Union
6
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.
26-8-7 (14-4-4 ECAC Hockey, 1st)
5. North Dakota
8
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 final.
26-13-3 (16-11-1 WCHA, 4th)
6. Minnesota Duluth
12
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 Travis Oleksuk.
25-10-6 (16-7-5 WCHA, 2nd)
7. Michigan
9
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.
24-13-4 (15-9-4 CCHA, 2nd)
8. Denver
5
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.
25-14-4 (16-8-4 WCHA, 3rd)
9. Miami
1
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.
24-15-2 (15-11-2 CCHA, 4th)
10. Western Michigan
13
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 berth.
21-14-6 (14-10-4 CCHA, 3rd)
11. Cornell
23
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.
19-9-7 (12-4-6 ECAC Hockey, 2nd)
12. UMass Lowell
49
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 hockey.
24-13-1 (17-9-1 Hockey East, t-2nd)
13. Air Force
20
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 Regional.
21-11-7 (15-6-6 Atlantic Hockey, 1st)
14. Boston University
7
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.
23-15-1 (17-9-1 Hockey East, t-2nd)
15. Maine
18
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.
23-14-3 (15-10-2 Hockey East, 4th)
16. Harvard
22
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.
13-10-11 (8-5-9 ECAC Hockey, 3rd)
17. Michigan State
36
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 direction.
19-16-4 (14-11-3 CCHA, 5th)
18. Colgate
41
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 history.
19-17-3 (11-10-1 ECAC Hockey, 4th)
19. Merrimack
16
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.
18-12-7 (13-9-5 Hockey East, 5th)
20. RIT
17
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.
20-13-6 (14-7-6 Atlantic Hockey, t-3rd)