After huge weekend, loaded Michigan hockey ranked No. 1 for first time since 2011

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

When Michigan hockey players and coaches gathered for the traditional celebratory picture after winning a marquee tournament this weekend, several fans in the stands at Minnesota-Duluth’s AMSOIL Arena photo-bombed the shot, using a single finger to express what they thought of the Wolverines.

Or, maybe, they were just signaling Michigan’s new ranking.

The Michigan hockey team is ranked No. 1 on Monday in both college hockey polls — USCHO and USA Hockey — for the first time since October 2011.

The Wolverines were ranked No. 1 on Monday in both college hockey polls — USCHO and USA Hockey — for the first time since October 2011, after a big weekend that included a championship in the Ice Breaker Tournament. They beat then-No. 1 Minnesota State, 3-2, on Saturday, marking the fourth consecutive time Michigan has beaten a No. 1-ranked team, after routing then-No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth, 5-1, on Friday.

Michigan is 4-0-0, a season after their postseason run was cut off when COVID-19 issues forced the Wolverines to withdraw from the NCAA Tournament.

With the ranking, Michigan joins the school’s football team, which is ranked No. 6 in the latest Associated Press poll, and the men’s basketball team, which is No. 6 in the preseason AP poll.

Michigan hockey was No. 3 this week, but it might’ve just been a matter of time before it climbed to the top, given its loaded roster that includes four of the top five picks in the 2021 NHL Draft — No. 1 Owen Power, No. 2 Matty Beniers, No. 4 Luke Hughes and No. 5 Kent Johnson. Those four have combined for five goals and 13 assists. Brendan Brisson has five goals and three assists.

Michigan, seeking a 10th national title and first since 1998, returns to action with a home-and-home against Western Michigan on Friday (Ann Arbor) and Saturday (Kalamazoo).

Western Michigan, under first-year head coach Pat Ferschweiler, is 2-0-0 and ranked 17th in the USCHO poll, and Michigan Tech (2-1-1) is ranked 18th.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984