USHL Power Rankings presented by USA Hockey Magazine

It’s going to be a sprint to the finish in the final full month of the USHL regular season. The top four teams in both the Eastern and Western Conference have put themselves in a good position to advance to the Clark Cup Playoffs as the season heads to March.

In the East, Youngstown is seven points ahead of fifth-place Green Bay, while Fargo is three points ahead of Lincoln out west. Nothing is guaranteed, however, as both the Gamblers and Stars have the ability to make a run in the final quarter of the season.

The Waterloo Black Hawks jumped up four spots to sit atop the USHL power rankings for the first time this season. Waterloo is 9-0-1-0 in their last 10 games, they have picked up a point in each of their last 15 contests. They are now just one point behind the Sioux City Musketeers as the race for the Anderson Cup heats up heading into March.

The usahockeymagazine.com March Power Rankings takes a look at the USHL heading into the final full month of the regular season. Twenty-one media members rank the teams first to 17th, and the votes are compiled into overall rankings. Power Rankings are determined on a monthly basis and run until Clark Cup Playoffs. Listed below are the teams, their record and number of first place votes in parenthesis.

 

RANK

TEAM

COMMENT

1.

Waterloo Black Hawks
(11)

2016-17: 31-12-2-2
Last poll:
5

Waterloo moved up four spots in the rankings and are atop the USHL power rankings for the first time this season. The Black Hawks picked up a point in each of its last 10 games and are 9-0-1-0 in its last 10 contests. The Black Hawks had six players in the top-20 of USHL scoring in February, including Kevin Charyszyn. He picked up points in eight of his nine games in February, tallying 18 points (13 goals, 5 assists) in those contests, including a hat trick on Feb. 17. Shane Bowers has been on a tear as well, as the Boston University commit and top 2017 NHL Draft prospect has points in 11 of his last 12 games. Recently acquired Alex Limoges (3 goals, 9 assists) and University of Minnesota Duluth commit Nick Swaney (6 goals, 5 assists) also had solid months. All four of these players are also in the top-15 overall in USHL scoring. Waterloo will play all but three games in March away from Young Arena as they look to move atop the USHL standings.

2.

 

Sioux City Musketeers (8)

2016-17: 30-9-5-2
Last poll:
3

The Musketeers currently sit atop the USHL standings, having won its last six games. They are 8-1-1-0 in its last 10 contests. Eeli Tolvanen has found his stride recently, as the Boston College commit sports a four-game point streak heading into March, with six goals and seven points in his last four February games. He was named CCM/USHL Forward of the Week on March 6. Recent addition Charlie Kelleher has fit in seamlessly with his new team, as he has scored in each of his last five games, with five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in that span. Matiss Kivlenieks continues to dominate between the pipes. The Minnesota State University, Mankato commit has won his last seven starts in goal and currently leads the USHL in wins (27), goals-against average (1.80) and save percentage (.937). Sioux City will play its first four games in March away from home before finishing the month with six straight games at Tyson Events Center.

3.

Chicago Steel (3)

2016-17: 30-11-2-3
Last poll:
1

Despite dropping two spots in the rankings, the Steel remain the top team in the Eastern Conference by three points, going 6-3-1-0 in its last 10 games. The Steel made a big addition prior to the USHL trade deadline, acquiring defenseman Ben Mirageas from the Bloomington Thunder. The Providence College commit played in the 2017 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and will add size and depth to Chicago’s blue line. Jack Badini continues to excel offensively, ending the month on a four-game goal scoring streak. The Harvard commit tallied six points (5 goals, 1 assist) in those four games and has 33 points (24 goals, 9 assists) in 46 games this season. Ales Stezka finished the month with a 4-1-1-0 record and is currently sixth among all USHL goaltenders in goals-against average (2.32), and just outside the top-10 in save percentage (.914). Chicago will play six of its 10 games in March away from Fox Valley Ice Arena as the Steel try to put a stranglehold on the top spot in the Eastern Conference and remain in the race for the Anderson Cup.

4.

Dubuque Fighting Saints (2)

2016-17:
25-10-1-2
Last poll
: 2

The Fighting Saints moved up two spots in this month’s rankings, and it was well earned. Dubuque earned at least one point in eight of their nine games in January and are 8-1-0-1 in their last 10 games. Zach Solow stretched his point streak to 20 games in the first month of 2017, just one game shy of the USHL Tier 1 record. In the month of January alone, the Northeastern commit tallied 10 points (1G, 9A) and is now tied for the USHL scoring lead with 40 points (10G, 30A) in 33 games. His 30 assists also leads all USHL players. Colin Theisen now finds himself in the top 10 in USHL scoring following a month in which he put up eight points (7G, 1A) in nine games. Jaxon Castor has been a rock between the pipes for Dubuque, as he sports a 2.06 GAA and .914 SV%. He finished January with six victories in eight appearances and leads the USHL with 21 wins on the season.

5.

Des Moines Buccaneers

2016-17: 29-14-1-3

Last poll: 8

Des Moines moved up three spots in the rankings thanks to the Buccaneers finishing February on a six-game winning streak. Julian Napravnik led the way offensively in February, finishing with 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 10 games. Rookie blueliner Mario Ferraro has also been a rock on defense, as the University of Massachusetts commit is now second among defenseman and third among all USHL rookies in scoring with 32 points (7 goals, 25 assists) in 47 games. David Keefer remains Des Moines’ scoring leader with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) at 47 games. Both Nick MacNab and Jan Ruzicka continue to be stellar between the pipes, as the two netminders both sit in the top-five among USHL goaltenders in save percentage and goals-against average. The Buccaneers will play five games both at home and on the road in March. Des Moines is 15-6-1-1 at Buccaneer Arena and 14-8-0-2 away from home.

6.

Muskegon Lumberjacks

2016-17: 28-15-3-1
Last Poll: 4

Muskegon sits alone in third place in the Eastern Conference heading into March. The duo of Collin Adams and Andrei Svechnikov will look to lead the Lumberjacks down the stretch and into the Clark Cup Playoffs, as the two players are tied for fifth among all USHL players in scoring with 45 points. Svechnikov ended February on a five-game point streak, with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in those contests. The Russian forward leads all rookies in scoring with 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) in 37 games, while Adams has 21 goals to go along with 24 assists in 44 games. Muskegon also has a couple new additions that will bolster their lineup down the stretch. Austin Alger has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in his seven games in the Lumberjacks lineup since being acquired from Omaha, while Austin Albrecht will make his Muskegon debut this weekend after being acquired from the Sioux Falls Stampede. Keith Petruzzelli finished February by winning four of his last five starts in addition to scoring a goal on Feb. 24. The Lumberjacks will play five games each at home and on the road in March.

7.

Youngstown Phantoms

2016-17: 27-15-4-1
Last poll:
7

Youngstown has won seven of its past 10 games and sits comfortably in fourth place in the Western Conference standings. Ivan Kulbakov remains the story for the Phantoms, as the Belarusian netminder finished February with a 6-2-0-0 record, a 1.96 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. Overall, Kulbakov sports a 23-11-4-1 record, a 1.96 goals-against average (second in the USHL) and a .917 save percentage (eighth in the USHL). Nicolas Werbik led the way offensively for Youngstown in February, scoring seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in seven games. Youngstown will start March with a four-game home stretch against Muskegon and Green Bay, a pair of series that could go a long way in solidifying the Phantoms potential spot in the Clark Cup Playoffs.

8.

Fargo Force

2016-17: 27-15-3-1

Last poll: 6

Fargo has picked up points in eight of its past 10 games and is three points clear of fifth-place Lincoln for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Jack Adams, Blake Lizotte and Hank Crone continue to light it up offensively for the Force. All three players remain in the top-10 in USHL scoring, with Adams at 48 points (27 goals, 21 assists – 2nd in USHL), Lizotte at 43 points (10 goals, 33 assists – 7th in USHL) and Crone at 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists – T-8th in USHL). Cody Haiskanen was outstanding on the blue line for the Force in February, with seven points (1 goals, 6 assists) in eight games and a Defenseman of the Week honor on Feb. 20. Matthew Murray finished February with a 4-1-0-1 record and remains in the top-10 among all USHL goaltenders in goals-against average (2.33) and save percentage (.915). The Force will divide its time between playing at home and on the road in March.

9.

Green Bay Gamblers

2016-17:
34-19-2-2

Last poll: 10

Green Bay sits seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference heading into March. The Gamblers will look to veteran leader and captain Jared Spooner to close the gap in the standings. The Minnesota State University, Mankato commit is tied for the team lead in scoring with 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) along with defenseman Connor Mackey (5 goals, 34 assists). Spooner tallied seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in February, while Mackey put up nine points in nine games (2 goals, 7 assists). Easton Brodzinski has been a nice addition to the Gamblers since coming over from in-state rival Madison, with six points (5goals, 1 assist) in his seven games with Green Bay. The Gamblers will also welcome Casey Mittelstadt back to the lineup later in the month, and he will provide the team with an offensive spark as they look to overcome that seven-point deficit in the standings in the final full month of the regular season. Green Bay has a favorable schedule in March, as all but three of its games are against teams under .500. The Gamblers will also travel to Youngstown for a series on Mar. 10-11 in a series that could ultimately decide the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed for the Clark Cup Playoffs.

10.

Lincoln Stars

2016-17:
25-17-4-1

Last poll: 19

The Stars sit just three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference heading into March. Western Michigan commit Ethen Frank will look to continue his success offensively from February into the final full month of the regular season. Frank tallied eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 10 games last month and remains the team’s scoring leader with 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 42 games. Lincoln also picked up some reinforcements recently, as they acquired Jack Doremus from the Sioux Falls Stampede. The University of Denver commit finished February with goals in three of his last four games and has 27 points (18 goals, 9 assists) in 46 games this season. The Stars will play eight of their nine games in March at home in the Ice Box, where it has amassed a 12-7-1-0 record so far this season.

11.

Omaha Lancers

2016-17: 18-23-5-1
Last poll:
16

The Lancers moved up five spots in the power rankings by picking up points in six of their nine games in February. Emilio Pettersen continues to shine in his first season in the USHL. In February alone, the University of Denver commit had nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) and is now fifth among all USHL rookies in scoring with 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 46 games. Filip Rydstrom finished February with points in five of his last seven games, and the Swedish forward remains the team’s scoring leader with 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games. Omaha will see some unfamiliar opponents in March, as six of their 10 contests will be played against Eastern Conference teams.

12.

Bloomington Thunder

2016-17: 18-23-3-2
Last poll:
11

Bloomington added a pair of veterans over the last week as the Thunder acquired Walker Duehr from the Chicago Steel and Christiano Versich of the Fargo Force for the final six weeks of the season. Both players will look to provide an offensive spark for the Thunder along with Vladislav Dzhioshvili, who tallied nine points (4 goals, 5 assists) in February to give him 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) on the season, the most on the team. Wyatt Kalynuk continues to excel on the back end, with 27 points (5 goals, 23 assists) in 28 games, the fifth highest point total among USHL defensemen. The Thunder will spend most of March away from U.S. Cellular Coliseum with nine of its 11 games on the road.

13.


Madison Capitols

2016-17: 19-24-1-1
Last poll:
15

Madison native and University of Wisconsin commit Mick Messner went on a tear in February, tallying nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) in nine games. He potted a pair of consecutive overtime-winning goals on Feb. 10 and 11, and picked up the primary assist on the Capitols’ overtime winner on Feb. 12. Messner has brought a balanced offensive attack this season, with 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) on the year. Dryden McKay continues to excel between the pipes, as the Holy Cross commit sits with a 2.69 goals-against average and .919 save percentage, which is tied for fifth among all USHL goaltenders. Madison will have a five-game home stretch starting on March 5 before going on the road for four straight games toward the end of the month.

14.

Tri-City Storm

2016-17: 16-24-5-2
Last poll:
13

Linus Weissbach led the way for the Storm in February with nine points (6 goals, 3 assists) in nine games. The Swedish forward also announced his commitment to play college hockey at the University of Wisconsin. He currently leads Tri-City in scoring with 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) in 46 games. Adam Goodsir continues to put together a solid rookie season, as he is fifth among USHL rookies with 21 points (13 goals, 8 assists). Goodsir has been lethal on the power play as well, scoring six times while on the man advantage, which is third among USHL rookies. It was also a month of firsts for Tri-City. Eric Dop picked up his first career shutout for the Storm in February and, despite having only 18 games played, is in the top 20 among all USHL goaltenders in goals-against average. Blais Richartz debuted for the Storm in late February and picked up his first career USHL goal in his first career USHL game. Tri-City will play six of its nine games in March at home in the Viaero Center.

15.

Team USA

2016-17: 16-21-1-2
Last poll:
14

 

Team USA played only three USHL games in February thanks to a full international schedule. Both the U17 and U18 squads participated in their respective Five Nations tournaments and were both successful. The U18 team won its Five Nations tournament, while the U17s finished second. March will be a busy month in terms of USHL action for Team USA, as the U17s and U18s will play a combined 16 USHL games between the two teams.

16.

Sioux Falls Stampede

2016-17: 16-24-2-4
Last poll:
12

The Stampede goaltenders have been busy this season, but they have been equal to the task. Jeremy Swayman and Mikhail Berdin have faced a combined 1642 shots but have a combined team save percentage of .910 between the two. Josh Passolt leads the team in scoring with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 46 games, and rookies Max Johnson (18 points), Paul DeNaples (15 points) and Jaxon Nelson (13 points) are all gaining valuable experience in their first USHL seasons. It will be a busy month for Sioux Falls, as they will play 11 games in March, including seven away from the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

17.

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

2016-17: 9-33-1-1

Last poll: 17

 

 

Cedar Rapids won four games in February and earned points in seven of their nine contests in the second month of 2017. Bobby Hampton had eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in nine games in February and has tallied 17 points (10 goals, 7 assists) in his 31 games with the RoughRiders. Rookie Steven Agriogianis has also been playing well as of late, as the Penn State commit had seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in February, and has 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 34 games this season. Cedar Rapids will play five games both at home and on the road in March, including a five-game road trip starting on March 10.
     

 

 

 

 

 

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