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Idle to uno: Gophers ascend to the top of both national polls heading into North Dakota showdown

With teams like Denver, Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota combining for just one win last weekend, the Minnesota Gophers moved up from second to first in the national polls while resting up for one of their historic rivals.

NCAA, Frozen Four, Practice, Media Day
Minnesota Gophers coach Bob Motzko spoke to his team during practice prior to the 2022 NCAA Frozen Four at TD Garden in Boston.
Brad Rempel / University of Minnesota Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS — Savvy NASCAR fans will tell you that sometimes a car gets to the front of the pack through hard work and aggressive driving. Other times, you get to the place where everyone else is in your rear-view mirror by watching all the chaos in front of you play out then cruising through it all.

With a week-long break in their schedule, the Minnesota Gophers watched all manner of chaos play out in the men’s college hockey world last weekend, and when all of the dust cleared, they found themselves with all of the other college hockey teams chasing.

The Gophers were ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey polls, which were released on Monday, heading into a top-10 showdown with long-time rival North Dakota this weekend in Minneapolis.

Ranked second nationally last week following a 3-1-0 start, the ascension comes after several of the teams competing with the Gophers for the top spot had rough weekends. Formerly top-ranked Denver, the defending national champs, lost a pair of games at UMass, while formerly third-ranked North Dakota gave up 11 goals in a home tie and loss to Quinnipiac . Minnesota Duluth, ranked fourth last week, lost a pair at Minnesota State Mankato. As expected, the Bulldogs dropped in the polls while the Mavericks ascended to second in the country.

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It is the first time the Gophers have held the nation’s top ranking since mid-January of 2021, when they were at the summit of both national polls after starting the season 11-1-0.


Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Michigan (3-1-0) split a home series with Boston University and is ranked fifth in both polls. Notre Dame (2-1-1) swept Northern Michigan at home and is 13th in USCHO and 12th in USA Today/USA Hockey. Ohio State (4-1-1) tied and lost at UConn and is 16th, and surprising Penn State improved to 4-0-0 with a home sweep of Mercyhurst, and is 18th.

Hockey East has six teams in the top 20, while the Big Ten and NCHC each have five. The Gophers women, who improved to 4-0-0 on Saturday, are ranked second nationally behind defending national champion Ohio State.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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