Gophers climb to No. 1 after sweep of UND

Dane Mizutani

Minnesota is the new No. 1 men’s hockey team in the nation after a series sweep of North Dakota at Mariucci Arena over the weekend.

The Gophers received 32 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO.com poll to jump Boston College, Colorado College, Michigan and Western Michigan.

The last time Minnesota played a game ranked as the No. 1 team in nation was Nov. 29, 2008. It tied that game with Michigan State at home 4-4 and dropped in the polls after.

News of the Gophers’ new ranking caused USCHO.com to momentarily crash Monday.

Minnesota (9-1-0, 6-0-0 WCHA) started the season ranked 19th in the USCHO.com poll, but in five weeks has ascended to claim the No. 1 ranking.

Those teams Minnesota vaulted all lost one game over the weekend. Michigan and Western Michigan split a series against each other, Colorado College split a WCHA series with Nebraska-Omaha, and Boston College — the previous No. 1 team — beat Maine 5-1 on Friday, but lost to Massachusetts 4-2 Saturday.

The Gophers beat UND 2-0 Friday in a physical game, and completed the sweep with a 3-2 victory Saturday when Kyle Rau scored the game-winning goal with 45.8 seconds remaining. Rau’s goal also helped propel Minnesota to its first regular-season home sweep of the Fighting Sioux since 1996.

The Gophers are three points ahead of second-place Michigan Tech in the WCHA.

Minnesota is also off to its best start since the 2001-02 season when it started 11-0-2 before it claimed the NCAA Division I Championship that year.

The Gophers will travel to Madison, Wis. this weekend to take on another rival, the Badgers.