WSR's Unofficial Division 2 Central Region Poll #3

12/16/14 - SPRINGFIELD, MO - As we head to the winter break, WebSports Radio wants to give you a special holiday gift....An extra 11th place slot in our unofficial ACHA DII poll for period three!  

Steve and Dan have decided to add one more spot because of the effect Lindenwood Belleville’s ineligibility will have on the final regional playoff picture. The 11th-place team will go to the tournament this year, so why not add them to our rankings?

You’re welcome!

As usual, Steve and Dan have made out their polls independent of each other and the average scores are presented below. But now, the points are awarded 11 for first, 10 for second, etc. down to one point for 11th place. Enjoy!

 

TW = This week ..... LW = Last Week

 

1 - Lindenwood (Belleville) - Steve: 1, Dan: 1

Steve: LU-B's first loss in Division II to unranked Iowa is not going to drop this powerhouse from the top spot. The Lynx remain the crown of the Central Division.

Dan:  Still the class of the field despite a shouldn’t-have-been-so-surprising split with Iowa 3-2 and 2-3, with both games going to OT. More on that later. But you just can’t deny the Lynx’ overall superiority this year. They had to stumble sooner or later, and this little stub of the toe doesn’t hurt a bit.

 

2 - Grand Valley State - Steve: 2, Dan: 2

Dan:  The Lakers did their job during period two, with easy wins over  Ferris State and Indiana tech. They also gained a little separation over the third-ranked team as Missouri State leaps over Lindenwood’s Lions. 

Steve:  The Lakers outscored opponents 29-5 in four games this ranking period. Only two wins against D2 Ferris State count for rankings, but point production from Jacob Endicott (4 goals) and Collin Finkhouse (3 goals) during a 10-2 outburst Dec. 5 against the Bulldogs help keep the Lakers a scoring threat.

 

3 - Missouri State - Steve: 3, Dan: 3

Steve:  Just two games against No. 4 Lindenwood on the schedule Dec. 5-6 for the Ice Bears and they were the most important of the season. Players understood the implications of sweeping the Lions and Ice Bears head coach Bob Bucher said both 3-1 wins rank as one of the most important series in the history of the team. Missouri State has only lost four regular season games to D2 opponents.

Dan:  A pair of 3-1 wins over Lindenwood vaults the Ice Bears into 3rd going into the holiday break and takes a little of the sting off of two close losses to Lindenwood Belleville. Missouri State is now past the meat of its schedule and has a good chance of  a  direct route to the nationals -  if they can stay focused.

 

4 - Lindenwood - Steve: 4, Dan: 4

Dan:  Despite their losses to Missouri State, Lindenwood is a solid 4th right now and has the kind of remaining schedule that could still get them a ticket to nationals if the Ice Bears slip up. The Lions have dates with Bellville and Waldorf (among others)  that could come in handy.

Steve:  Gary Gardner has put together a solid team. There was a sliver of a doubt for a fleeting moment after a 5-0 loss to Lindenwood-Belleville Oct. 15, but the Lions rebounded with five straight shutouts. The Lions bounced back from a sweep by Missouri State with a 5-1 victory Dec. 7 over Louisville.

 

5 - Illinois State - Steve: 5, Dan: 5

Steve:  Playing three games with Mid-America Collegiate Hockey Association league opponents this ranking period and posting three wins keeps the Redbirds where they are. A tough schedule that includes Florida Gulf Coast and Lindenwood in January could propel Illinois State up a notch with victories.

Dan: Illinois State took care of biz in period two, but not in as convincing fashion as I would have hoped. They swept Illinois alright, but only slipped by Missouri by a 7-5 count.  They remain just a follicle ahead of Northern Illinois.

 

6 -Northern Illinois - Steve: 6, Dan: 6  

Dan:   The Huskies tested my patience with a split with SIUE in December, but they have done enough good things to stay put at least until January. They are going to have to learn to sweep somebody, though. 

Steve:  NIU split with guess who - Southern Illinois - Edwardsville. Since I will invoke the strength-of-schedule clause, the Huskies stay above Michigan State for now.  Justin Rucinski is the ninth-leading scorer in ACHA Division II with 30 goals and 19 assists.  He tallied a pair of goals against the Cougars Dec. 5th in a 5-3 win.

 

7 - Michigan State - Steve: 7, Dan: 7

Steve:  Four wins against teams who have 11 wins and 32 losses between them isn’t going to jump you up a notch, but winning doesn’t make you lose a spot either. Games with Florida Gulf Coast and Grand Valley State in the second half of the season will be very important for the Spartans.

Dan:  Here’s where we start finding thin ice. Central Michigan has been dismal, Robert Morris has been inconsistent, and both are now gone from my top ten. That opens up two slots, and slots 7-10 are all practically peas in a pod. Last week  Steve and I differed on just two places; swapping places seven and eight on our individual filings. I’m sure we will be bickering mightily from here on in.

Despite an early season loss to Michigan, the Spartans stay at No. 7 because of a strong December showing against D1  Indiana tech (4-3, 3-0) and because their tune-up regimen of too many D1 teams in the first half  always seem to bring out a battle-ready team after the winter break. They will prove themselves in the late stretch as they take on the likes of Florida Gulf Coast, Grand Valley State, and Davenport. Or, they will make me look silly for leaving them here.

 

8 - Southern Illinois-Edwardsville - Steve: 8, Dan: 10

Steve:  Let’s get the spoons out.  Not only does SIUE keep splitting with teams, the Cougars have scooped the number  eight spot from Central Michigan.  While the Chippewas sport a seven game losing streak and an 11-3 loss to D3 Michigan State, the Cougars of Southern Illinois take a game from Illinois State.  That win coupled with the sweep of CMU gives SIUE the edge. 

Dan:  Once I reconsidered Iowa’s accomplishments I could no longer put the Cougars ahead of the Hawkeyes, so down they go - just a little. Their split with Northern Illinois most probably would have kept them higher (and maybe even raised them above Michigan State) if not for being swept by Iowa.

In reality SIUE has just had so many dang splits this season that it’s a roll of the dice where to put them. I just know they can be very dangerous to anyone who crosses their path.

 

9T - Waldorf - Steve: 11, Dan: 9

Dan:  Waldorf’s sweep of Iowa looks better and better as Iowa rises. Waldorf takes Northern Michigan out of the top ten by virtue of better games against Lindenwood Bellville (1-2, 0-4 losses as opposed to 2-7, 2-9 shellackings for Northern Michigan), but that’s not all that got them here. They also own a one goal advantage over Robert Morris Maroon in a two game split.   Waldorf is 17-7 with a very strong schedule, and they have gotten better as the year progresses. Look for them to prove their mettle in the second half.

Steve:  Yes, I’ve named an 11th team. Lindenwood Belleville is ineligible for post season play and that means this team will catch a break this year and could have a chance to play for a National Championship. Although everyone is winning handily against D1 Midland this season, those wins do not justify a descent in my book. 

 

9T - Iowa - Steve: 12, Dan: 8

Steve: Now, I ’ve named a 12th team - Iowa - even though they get no points for it.  This is not the same Hawkeyes team that started the season. But an impressive split with Lindenwood-Belleville and a 5-2-1 record since Nov. 7  opens my eyes to the rising Hawkeyes.  

Dan: I think I should apologize to Iowa for ignoring them up to this point. After seeing them flounder against Missouri State early on, I didn’t give them much credit. But after their heroic battle with Lindenwood-Belleville last week (split of two overtime games), I took a closer look at their schedule. They played Waldorf to O.T. as well, swept SIUE and lost (barely) a pair to Northern Illinois. They also beat up on St. Louis, which has been a common measuring stick for many of the top teams. Time to give the Hawkeyes some love. 

 

9T - Davenport - Steve: 9, Dan: 11

Dan: Hated to take Robert Morris Maroon out, but with a 12-1-1 record and a 4-4 tie with GVSU, Davenport will be there in the end. Robert Morris’ split with Waldorf wasn’t enough to protect them from an embarrassing split with DePaul. The tell-tale games will be coming up shortly.

Steve: A battle of the Panthers went to Davenport in the form of a 31-2 series against Eastern Illinois in the first week of December.  While Chris Green’s team has won this ranking period, its games against Grand Valley State, Michigan State and Northern Michigan that will make or break the DU Panthers.