Monday afternoon witnessed the end of hockey drama in the heartland, with Nebraska-Omaha defeating Colorado College 3-0 behind Isaiah Saville’s 34 saves. The host Mavericks (6-3-1) were the pod's surprise team, and accordingly ranked 11th today, up six spots.
Clearly the 21 days — and 38 games — were an overall success after an initial hiccup with the Tigers two weeks before play began. There were great games involving top teams nearly every day for three weeks. “If you aren’t feeling great, you’re missing something,” NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said during Monday's finale. "It was a herculean effort. Teams stayed disciplined to protocol. We are forever indebted to Omaha, and can't thank the people enough." After winning their final three games, North Dakota emerged atop at 7-2-1, but the Sioux played one more game than Duluth (5-2-2) and St. Cloud State (6-3). The teams are ranked 3, 4 and 6, respectively, in Monday's poll. Five NCHC teams are now ranked in the Top 20. Of note, St. Cloud State and Omaha both killed over 90% of power plays against them, with the Mavs stopping 26 straight in their last eight games. Denver was the biggest disappointment, finishing 3-6-1. With no games scheduled until Jan. 1, here are the current NCHC standings. Also in the Midwest, the Big Ten finally announced their schedule for return to play in 2021. That occurs Jan. 3. Most teams will have not played in nearly three weeks by then. Minnesota remains No. 1 in America at 8-0. Michigan, Wisconsin and Notre Dame are also ranked. A.J. Kaufman is a regular contributor on sports and other matters for KACMEDIA. His content is also featured on Alpha News Minnesota.