As the new year emerges, the DI men's ice hockey rankings are beginning to take shape, with sides sliding and rising following the most recent weekend's events.
With most sides having played at least 16 games this season, the top bracket of contenders are quickly laying their claim toward the summit ahead of 2022.
We take a look at the five sides that are leading the charge at this point of the season and heavily impacting US betting sites.
The Bobcats have been a rock-solid side season long thanks to their defensive core, ranking as the best rearguard in the DI men's league this year.
Quinnipiac have conceded fewer goals than any of their rivals, allowing the puck to hit the netting on just 19 occasions from their 16 matches.
Goalie Yaniv Perets has been a vocal architect in Quinnipiac's stingy defending, having amassed a stellar record of 0.86 goals against per game.
Three consecutive shutouts have seen the Bobcats continue their hold toward the top of the DI rankings for 2021, with good defence leading to good offence.
A 12-1-3 record has Rand Pecknold's side in good stead ahead of a crucial back-end of the year.
A stunning 14-4-0 run to start the year has seen the Mavericks quickly placed toward the mantle of the league, with forward Nathan Smith leading the charge.
The 23-year-old has scored 26 points for the season, thanks to a tremendous tally of 11 goals so far in this campaign.
While Smith has been a focal point up front, Minnesota State have had a collective strikeforce in their attack, having amassed 967 points for the year, more than any other side.
The Mavericks have also been able to rely on their back third, with Mike Hastings have effortlessly implemented his strong tactics once again.
Michigan sit narrowly behind the likes of the Bobcats and Mavericks after their opening 18 games, however they do stand as one of the most entertaining sides to watch.
High scoring wins - and defeats - have seen fans flock to Wolverines games this year in anticipation for topsy-turvy affairs, with Michigan more often than not coming out on top.
A stunning 6-2 win over Minnesota quickly put the rest of the league on notice, with Kent Johnson and Owen Power constantly posing as a threatening pairing.
The duo have combined for seven goals and 39 assists so far this year, tallying a combined average of 2.63 points per game.
Minnesota Duluth were previously ranked at No.1 in the league, however their recent form has come to hinder their prospects for the long run.
No trailing their rivals in the Mavericks so far this year, the Bulldogs have ridden the highs and lows over recent weeks, mot previously falling to Northern Michigan in two matches with an aggregate score of 10-6.
The Bulldogs are one of the latest sides to face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic however, with goalie Ryan Fanti required to undergo directed protocols and currently remains on the sidelines.
St. Cloud State
The Huskies have moved up the rankings into fourth following a stunning victory over North Dakota to redeem themselves after the previous weekend.
St. Cloud State managed to net eight times against the Fighting Hawks, who have since seen their place in the rankings drop.
Kevin Fitzgerald is having a defining campaign, having scored eight goals and assisted 13 to average 1.3 points per game.