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College team to watch

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 12:28 a.m.

MIAMI UNIVERSITY

Ranked No. 3 in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, No. 4 in USCHO.com poll

Swept Bowling Green, 2-1 and 3-1, at home last week.

Notes: Young team with 11 freshmen and seven sophomores among 26 players on roster. ... Barber was taken in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals, Kuraly in 2011's fifth round by the San Jose Sharks. Both were part of Team USA's World Junior gold medal-winning team last month. ... Entered the weekend leading the nation in team defense (1.54 goals per game).

THE TOP 5 (according to USCHO.com, records through Thursday)

1. Minnesota 18-4-4

In midst of 12-day break that comes at a good time -- 1-1-1 in past three

2. Quinnipiac 18-3-3

The team has allowed more than two goals only once in past 18 games

3. New Hampshire 15-6-2

Joins Minnesota as only teams in top 11 nationally of both scoring offense, defense

4. Miami, Ohio 15-6-5

Lost to Robert Morris in final of Three Rivers Classic last month

5. Boston College 14-7-2

Former No. 1 hasn't won consecutive games since 11-1 start

For the first time, the Big Ten will sponsor men's ice hockey beginning this coming fall. With Penn State's move up to Division I this season, the conference has the minimum six members playing the sport.

Considering their neophyte status, the Nittany Lions have been competitive at 10-13 -- including wins against Ohio State and Michigan State. The Buckeyes and Spartans join Michigan as future Big Ten teams struggling this season. All there current Central Collegiate Hockey Association members are under .500.

Things are different for the other Big Ten teams, both of which are in their final seasons in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Minnesota is ranked No. 1 in the country, and Wisconsin is No. 19 in the USCHO.com poll.

Minnesota was a Frozen Four team last season, and Michigan ended the regular season ranked No. 2 in the country last year. The Wolverines have a record nine NCAA championships. Between them, the previously-existing five Big Ten hockey-playing schools have combined for 23 national championships.

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