1. St. Cloud State (17-10-1, 14-5-1, RPI No. 8): The Huskies have put together impressive six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) in WCHA play the past three weekends, including sweeps of Denver and Bemidji State plus a three-point series against North Dakota. They are 8-0-1 in their last nine WCHA games, dating to UNO’s wild 6-5 win Dec. 7, and now lead second-place UNO by three points and a group of three teams by five. Part of that third-place tie, though, is Minnesota, which has two games in hand and visits the National Hockey Center this weekend. Next: Minnesota.
2. Minnesota (18-4-4, 10-4-4, No. 2): After a split with Minnesota State-Mankato, the Gophers had the weekend off to gear up for that huge series this weekend at St. Cloud State. Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth and Denver are next, with only a weekend at Bemidji State to close the regular season as an apparent breather. At 3.8 goals per game, only Minnesota scores more than UNO, and freshman goalie Adam Wilcox is 17-3-4 and ranks sixth nationally with a 1.70 goals-against average. Next: at St. Cloud State.
3. UNO (16-10-2, 12-6-2, No. 17): The Mavs would have loved to get at least one more point out of the Michigan Tech series, losing in overtime 2-1 Saturday. Coach Dean Blais put the combined 44 goals of Ryan Walters, Matt White and Josh Archibald on the same line Saturday, but Archibald got UNO’s lone goal. Are the Mavs ready for the wild weekend with North Dakota, which includes Saturday’s outdoor game? And are there enough PairWise points out there the rest of the season for UNO, which currently sits at No. 21? Next: North Dakota.
4. Denver (15-8-4, 10-6-4, No. 9): Trailing 3-1 with seven minutes left Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth, the Pioneers rallied for three goals in 91 seconds to complete a huge road sweep that gave them a share of the league’s three-way tie for third. Friday’s series-opening win was their first on the road since Nov. 16. Denver was outshot each night, including 33-24 Saturday. Nolan Zajac scored each night, including Saturday’s game-winner. Next: Friday, vs. Colorado College. Saturday, at CC.
5. North Dakota (14-8-6, 9-5-6, No. 11): A 4-1 win Saturday over Wisconsin snapped a five-game winless streak (0-2-3), the program’s longest in 10 years, though the first four games in that stretch were a murderer’s row of Minnesota and St. Cloud State. Freshman Zane Gothberg has been in net for five of the past seven games instead of heralded Alabama-Huntsville transfer Clarke Saunders. Next: at UNO.
6. Wisconsin (11-9-6, 8-6-6, No. 21): Badgers’ WCHA unbeaten streak reached 11 games (7-0-4) before 4-1 loss Saturday at North Dakota, and they hold sixth place — the final home-ice playoff spot — for now. After a home series with Bemidji State, the Badgers play Minnesota at home and then outdoors at Soldier Field in Chicago. Series at UNO the first weekend in March could be huge — Badgers sit one spot behind UNO in the PairWise rankings at No. 22. Next: Bemidji State.
7. Minn. St.-Mankato (16-9-3, 10-9-1, No. 13): After a split with Minnesota, the Mavericks had a week off to get ready for their series at Minnesota-Duluth. PairWise ranking, tied for No. 14 is solid, but could use a little boost. Minnesota State has five wins against ranked teams. The Mavs have killed off 61 of the last 67 opponent power plays, a 91.0-percent success rate. Next: at Minnesota-Duluth.
8. Minnesota-Duluth (10-13-3, 8-9-3, No. 37): Time will tell how devastating Denver’s three-goal, late third-period rally will be to a Bulldog team that had been building momentum before being swept at home for a third straight loss. Minnesota-Duluth is 5-6-1 at home and only 2-8-2 on Saturdays. A bounceback this weekend at home against Minnesota State-Mankato could help UMD get back in the race for home ice. And UNO’s regular-season ending series there could be big. Next: Minnesota State-Mankato.
9. Michigan Tech (8-13-4, 5-11-4, No. 43): Huskies have posted wins against No. 1 Minnesota, No. 7 Western Michigan and No. 14 UNO this season. Didn’t appear as interested in trying to skate with UNO on Saturday and were rewarded for the more defensive-minded style with a 2-1 overtime win that could come back to haunt the Mavericks. Home series with Alaska-Anchorage and Colorado College should generate some points, while road series remain with MSU and St. Cloud State. Next: Alaska-Anchorage.
10. Colorado College (10-14-4, 7-10-3, No. 34): Still three points ahead of Michigan Tech, but back-to-back ties at Alaska-Anchorage during the weekend only confirm the perception that the Tigers are treading water — and maybe not very successfully. Upcoming series with Denver, St. Cloud State, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech figure to push CC down to 10th place by the end of the regular season, barring a turnaround. Next: Friday, at Denver. Saturday, vs. Denver.
11. Bemidji State (5-16-5, 4-12-4, No. 54): The Beavers didn’t put up much of a fight against St. Cloud State, getting outscored 8-1 while being swept to complete an 0-4 homestand that included a sweep at the hands of UNO (by a combined 7-4). Bemidji State is 0-8-2 since Christmas and up next are Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and Minnesota. Yikes. Next: at Wisconsin.
12. Alaska-Anchorage (3-16-7, 1-15-6, No. 55): It’s a two-point weekend for the Seawolves, who are still four points behind 11th-place Bemidji State in the standings, but at 0-3-3 in their last six games are “red-hot” by comparison. Of course the winless streak is at 14 games (0-11-3). After traveling to Michigan Tech this weekend, the Seawolves will try to clip UNO at Sullivan Arena. Next: at Michigan Tech.