I'm a little surprised to see so many comments boasting around Mankato's "#2 ranking", how good of a team they are, the lessons UND will take from this, etc. etc. Let's challenge how good of a hockey team MSU is and that "#2 ranking" they currently hold:
- The WCHA is a weak conference. Of the 6 conferences in men's hockey, they are 5th. Only Atlantic Hockey is a weaker conference. Look at how many teams the WCHA has put into the tournament since its rebirth for support on why I can say it's the second weakest conference. Further, let's put into context that MSU was not invited to the NCHC because "lack of competitiveness" towards NCAA championships. MSU carries an 0-6 record in the NCAA tournaments. Of those 6 losses, 5 of them have occurred since the WCHA restructured and Hastings has been the coach. While this is based on prior years statistics, it indicates that it is likely when MSU plays a higher caliber team outside of its conference, they lose. This can further be evidenced by the fact that MSU was a consistent doormat and punching bag of the original WCHA. From 2000-2012, this team had a winning percentage under .500. Since Hastings has taken over, MSU has a winning percentage of over .675 which is pretty dang impressive on paper, but clearly there is a benefit of being in an inferior conference with the likes of Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Huntsville accounting for up to 12 games per year. Colorado College would finish no worse than 3rd in the WCHA, and I would further argue that CC would battle for the #1 WCHA spot with BG & MSU.
- Mankato's ranking of "#2" in the nation is a reflection of early-season poll bias. It's two weeks into the season and MSU's previous wins were against Arizona State.... The "#2" designation is also a reflection of prior season success in that MSU consistently racks up 20+ wins per season because they thump on teams ranging in the bottom 10 of the PWR.
*I'm not saying this MSU team is a bunch of slouches - hockey parity overall has gotten tighter and tighter - but I am completely unconvinced that the current year MSU team is a contender or this weekend might not bite UND in the rear later in the year based on who MSU has always been and the conference they play in. The notion that UND getting a tie and a loss is an "okay outcome" at Mankato because they are the "#2 " team in the country and "on the road" is highly questionable given how weak the WCHA is and the teams that MSU plays in order to earn that "#2 ranking" in the country designation.