Going into their Holiday Haitus the Bulls were big gainers in the ACHA Poll. UB moved up two spots in the top 25 poll to the 15 spot, one place behind Niagara and three above Syracuse.
Three NECHL teams in the top 20 is one of the leagues better showings of late but the Western Collegiate Hockey League has the greatest representation. All 6 WCHL members are ranked, as are all five members of the Central States Collegiate Hockey League.
There are 54 teams that compete in the ACHA's Men’s Division 1 hockey league. 20 of those will travel to John Carroll University for this seasons national tournament, the fourth time the league has used a field of 20.
To select the field the league uses the two computer rankings generated by USHSHO.com, Ranking A (Wins with Maximum Goal Differential of 7) and Ranking B (Wins with Maximum Goal Differential of 1). Those poll results are averaged out and called the "ACHA Rankings."
|8||Robert Morris (IL)||17-3-1|
|14||Niagara - NECHL||13-4-0|
|15||Buffalo - NECHL||16-4-0|
|18||Syracuse - NECHL||14-6-1|
|20||Robert Morris PA - CHMA||15-2-1|
This is only the second season that the computer ranking alone determines the 20 teams that qualify for the Division 1 National Championships.
Those computer rankings are paired up with the leagues seven autobids to complete the field. In the event an auto bid is awarded to an unranked team then the lowest ranked remaining team in the field is eliminated.
If the season ended today the auto bids would be held by:
- Robert Morris #20 (CHMA)
- Villinova NR (ECHA)
- Stony Brook #4 (ESCHL)
- Adrian College #5 (GLCHL)
- Niagara #14 (NECHL)
- Central Oklahoma #2 (WCHL)
- John Carroll NR (Host School)
Villinova and John Carroll are making the pictures for nationals complicated because they are both unranked in the ACHA polls and hold an auto bid spot.
Robert Morris of Pennsylvania throws another wrinkle in the nationals picture by being ranked 20th and holding a league championship spot.
If the season ended today #18 Syracuse and #19 Michigan-Dearborn would both be out of luck, sitting home while three teams ranked lower than them make the trip to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission at the OBM Arena in Strongsville, OH.
The Bulls have a strong enough schedule to hold their spot in the mid teens if they take care ob business in the second half of the season.
In addition to NECHL playing #14 Niagara and #18 Syracuse the Bulls have three out of League games against ranked opponents.
Buffalo has a key three game road swing in the Middle of January.
The Bulls play at #17 davenport on January 15th and then a two game set against Michigan Dearborn on January 16th and 17th. Both ranked foes, both on the road, and both should be beatable.
If UB sweeps or at least beats davenport and splits with Dearborn then the should be heading into the body of NECHL league play ranked somewhere between 10-15. At that point the only hurdle not yet mentioned here is that of their seven remaining league games four are on the road including the Niagara (1/25) and Syracuse (1/31) games.