2021-22 CCHA Power Rankings

National No. 1 Minnesota State Leads The Way

After Minnesota State downed USCHO No. 1 UMass in a two-game series, the Mavericks will take the the inaugural top spot in the 2021-22 CCHA power rankings.

Welcome to FloHockey’s bi-monthly power rankings for CCHA hockey. Find out which of the CCHA’s eight teams rise, fall or stay put as the weekly series unfolds in the 2021-22 season.

1. Minnesota State 

Record: 2-0 (2-0 overall)

With four consecutive now-defunct WCHA titles, the USCHO No. 1-ranked Mavericks hold down the top spot until one of their division rivals can knock them out. After a two-game sweep over former No. 1-ranked Massachusetts, that doesn’t appear to be anytime soon.

Player turnover has been a regular mention as a question mark in Mankato, but every year coach Mike Hastings has players ready to fill the skates of graduates and departed players and takeover bigger roles with seeming ease.

Through two games Nathan Smith has six points, Julian Napravnik has three, 12 other Mavericks have at least one point, and netminder Dryden McKay is poised for another NCAA-topping season. Another test will come this weekend in a series against No. 2-ranked St. Cloud State.

2. Lake Superior State 

Record: 1-1 (1-1 overall)

The Lakers' series split with No. 17-ranked Omaha didn’t do them any favors in this week’s poll, but the program also doesn’t need a number to know they’re strength.

Another test is already on the way in USCHO No. 3-ranked Michigan this weekend. They are offensively potent, defensively responsible, and deep enough to burn the barn on an off night. The Lakers are facing some roster uncertainty, but have the talent and potential to regroup quickly and build on last year’s 19-7-3 record. Now they just have to do it.

3. Bemidji State

Record: 0-0 (0-0 overall)

The Beavers lost a 2-1 exhibition game to No. 8-ranked North Dakota Saturday night in a tight game that has them looking strong for the 2021-22 season. Ranked at No. 15, nationally, Bemidji State is already being noticed after last season’s 16-10-3 record.

Now with their next four games scheduled as non-conference series against both USCHO No. 5-ranked Minnesota-Duluth (Oct. 8-9) and another shot at North Dakota (Oct. 15-16), the Beavers are preparing themselves for some of the nation’s best programs. It’s coach Tom Serratore’s nod to what he knows his team is capable of and now they have an early chance to prove it. 

4. Michigan Tech

Record: 0-0-1 (0-0-1 overall)

The Huskies return to action with a packed October that pits them against No. 13-ranked Wisconsin for two games, No. 19-ranked Notre Dame for one game, and No. 20-ranked Clarkson for two games.

Similar to their CCHA opponents, the Huskies are front-loading this schedule to get that boost for potential at-large bids come National Tournament time. With a substantial returning cast and netminder Blake Pietila as the backbone, the Huskies could be a pleasant surprise.

5. Bowling Green 

Record: 0-0 (0-0 overall)

Roster turnover has ravaged Bowling Green, but a 7-1 exhibition loss never looks good. Despite the loss being to No. 3-ranked Michigan, the same team icing four of the top five picks in the 2021 NHL Draft. Still, it signals what is likely to be a step back this season with significant offensive loss and a new face in the crease.

The lack of top-tier opponents to open the season, despite non-conference implications, further shows the program’s acknowledgement of a needed recharge.

6. Northern Michigan 

Record: 0-0 (0-0 overall)

Northern Michigan tied their lone exhibition game 4-4 with Michigan Tech. Next, the Wildcats kick off their 2021-22 season this weekend hosting a new Div-I program, St. Thomas for a pair of games.

The Wildcats have been a streaky team the last few seasons with some tough fall semester schedules. Coming off a 11-17-1 season speaks to that. Add some offensive deductions and the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them. They will rely on the upside of their freshman class coming through quick and returning players earning the large roles left open across the roster.

7. Ferris State 

Record: 1-1 (1-1 overall)

The Bulldogs didn’t claim their first win until January 16th last year, a 7-0 victory over ACHA program Trine. Despite a delayed start to the 2020-21 season, it took eight losses to find that victory. 

The program would ultimately finish with a 1-23-1 record. But they matched that win after only two games and welcomed another rookie puck-moving defenseman this season; the same type that has been instrumental to whatever success they’ve experienced the past few seasons.

With five of their next six contests on the road, the Bulldogs will need to use this travel time to build chemistry and get ahead of the conference schedule.

8. St. Thomas 

Record: 0-2 (0-2 overall)

The Tommies knew the up-ice battle they faced entering Div-I hockey and took a beating by USCHO No. 2-ranked St. Cloud State over the weekend with a 12-2 loss at St. Cloud and 2-0 loss at home.

Confidence will come as time progresses and those Div-I inaugural jitters should be out of the way. No series will come easy, but the tough start of one of college hockey’s top programs has now passed and the Tommies' next string of opponents will be more in tune to their season.