USHL Power Rankings for March 1: Teams gear up for stretch run as calendar flips to March
Top three teams remain the same while the Buccaneers and Storm among biggest risers
USHL writer Jordan McAlpine is back with another edition of power rankings. Rankings will be provided on a bi-weekly basis throughout the rest of the season.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
16.) Madison Capitols, 11-30-2-1
Last Ranking: 16
Madison dropped a pair of games to Dubuque last weekend and the Capitols are 2-7-1-0 in their last 10.
Madison has allowed a league-worst 202 goals this season and both of their special team units rank last in the USHL. The Capitols' 25 points are also the fewest in the USHL.
15.) Omaha Lancers, 13-23-5-2
Last Ranking: 15
The Lancers earned a point Saturday in an overtime loss at Waterloo. However, Omaha has the league’s second-fewest points (33) and the Lancers have scored the league’s fewest goals (100) this season.
Omaha traded away another piece before Monday’s trade deadline as the Lancers sent forward Charlie Lurie to Cedar Rapids. Lurie was Omaha’s active leading scorer with 24 points (11-13-24) in 42 games.
14.) Muskegon Lumberjacks, 20-22-2-0
Last Ranking: 13
Muskegon is just five points back of a playoff spot and the Lumberjacks will play a pair of games against Cedar Rapids this weekend — the team they’re chasing.
Muskegon is 5-5-0-0 in its last 10 and despite trading away three of their leading scorers, others have stepped up. However, the Lumberjacks are still seventh in the Eastern Conference and own the USHL’s third-fewest points.
13.) Sioux City Musketeers, 18-17-2-3
Last Ranking: 10
It’s been a rough stretch in Sioux City as the Musketeers have won just one of their last eight and are 2-8-0-0 in their last 10. Sioux City also traded away one of its core pieces Monday in second-year defenseman Garrett Brown.
Brown was one of Sioux City’s assistant captains and one of the Musketeers most versatile defensemen.
The Musketeers are still fifth in the Western Conference. However, their 43 points are tied with Sioux Falls and Des Moines is just one point behind.
12.) Sioux Falls Stampede, 18-21-4-3
Last Ranking: 12
Speaking of the Stampede, Sioux Falls is coming off an impressive home-and-home sweep of Lincoln. Eric Rud’s club won in overtime Friday and polished off the sweep with a 4-2 road win on Saturday.
That's a beauty of a goal from @ChrisPelosi2, earning us TWO points in the USHL standings!!!— Sioux Falls Stampede (@sfstampede) February 25, 2023
🍎 @adamzlnka https://t.co/6WS3mawGw0 pic.twitter.com/bOMX2t8f9V
The Stampede are currently inside the top six in Western Conference. However, Des Moines has played two fewer games. The wins over Lincoln are a step in the right direction but Sioux Falls is still just 3-4-2-1 in its last 10.
11.) Des Moines Buccaneers, 17-19-5-3
Last Ranking: 14
The biggest riser in this week’s rankings, the Buccaneers have points in seven (5-3-1-1) of their last 10. Des Moines fell to conference-leading Fargo Saturday night but Matt Curley’s club has quickly closed the gap in the Western Conference over the last two weeks.
The Buccaneers are in the midst of a stretch of nine of 10 games at home. So far they’ve won three of the first four and forward Jak Vaarwerk has points in five of his last six games.
Des Moines will face Dubuque in a home-and-home this weekend.
10.) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, 20-17-4-3
Last Ranking: 9
The RoughRiders are 3-5-1-1 in their last 10 but they did earn three points last weekend with a win and a shootout loss against Youngstown. Cedar Rapids is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference and their top forwards continue to produce.
Lurie gives Cedar Rapids another weapon and Mark Carlson bulked up his roster with three acquisitions during the month of February.
Cedar Rapids also acquired forward Jack Musa and defenseman Zack Sharp from Madison and Sioux Falls respectively.
9.) Tri-City Storm, 22-16-2-3
Last Ranking: 11
Tri-City has moved up to fourth in the Western Conference and the Storm have been on a roll the last two weeks. Tri-City has won four straight, points in five straight and is 6-3-1-0 in its last 10.
Jake Richard has started to heat up with his new squad and the Buffalo pick has goals in four of his last five games. Tri-City got a boost with Evan Werner’s return from injury and Alex Bump (injury) should be back within the next few weeks.
Tri-City will host Sioux Falls for a pair of games this weekend.
8.) Dubuque Fighting Saints, 20-15-3-1
Last Ranking: 8
Dubuque continued its success against Chicago Tuesday night with a 5-4 overtime win. William Staring recorded a three-point night (2-1-3), including the OT winner.
The Fighting Saints have won three straight and six of their last 10. Dubuque’s 50 points are good for fifth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the USNTDP.
Defenseman Max Burkholder now leads USHL defensemen with 15 goals and his 38 points are tied for the most among USHL blue liners.
7.) Lincoln Stars, 25-13-2-0
Last Ranking: 4
After enjoying a five-game win streak and a six-game point streak, the Stars have taken a 180-degree turn and Lincoln is currently riding a six-game losing skid.
Lincoln held a 10-point cushion over fourth place in the Western Conference, which has dwindled to four points. And Tri-City is quickly closing the gap.
Despite the results, Lincoln forward Tanner Ludtke has scored in four straight games and has seven points (4-3-7) in that stretch. The Omaha commit leads Lincoln with 25 goals, which ranks sixth in the USHL, and his 45 points are second on Lincoln’s roster.
6.) Green Bay Gamblers, 24-14-1-1
Last Ranking: 6
The Gamblers are in a battle with Youngstown near the top of the Eastern Conference. Green Bay and Youngstown are currently tied for second with 55 points and the teams will meet four times in March.
Green Bay has won four of its last six and is 5-4-1 in its last 10. Mike Leone’s squad continues to impress and Jimmy Clark, Matthew DiMarsico and Artyom Levshunov continue to produce. Clark has five goals and eight points over his last five games.
5.) Youngstown Phantoms, 21-13-4-1
Last Ranking: 7
Speaking of the Phantoms, Youngstown has points in eight of its last 10 (7-2-1-0) and took four points from Cedar Rapids last weekend. That includes a 4-1 win in the Cleveland Classic.
Jacob Fowler earned his fifth USHL Goaltender of the Week honor and forward Andon Cerbone continues to rack up the points. Cerbone saw an eight-game point streak come to an end Friday but the Quinnipiac commit has eight goals and 13 points over his last 10 games.
4.) USNTDP, 22-11-1-2
Last Ranking: 5
The U18 team got a boost last week with the addition of James Hagens and Cole Eiserman. Both have reached the 30-point mark in USHL play this season and Eiserman has five goals over his last two games.
Make no mistake, the USNTDP’s primary focus is on the U18 World Championship next month. But both the U17 and U18 teams will be busy in the USHL beforehand. The USNTDP is 8-2-0-0 in its last 10 and fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.
3.) Chicago Steel, 26-12-2-1
Last Ranking: 3
The Steel still sit atop the Eastern Conference with 62 points and have scored a league-best 200 goals. Chicago fell to Dubuque Tuesday night and has dropped three of its last four. But the Steel are still 7-2-1-0 in their last 10.
Macklin Celebrini continues his masterful season and the rookie forward leads the USHL in goals (35) and points (64). Nick Moldenhauer is also starting to heat up and has five points over his last three games, which includes a pair of two-goal games.
2.) Waterloo Black Hawks, 27-13-0-0
Last Ranking: 2
Waterloo continues to win and continues to improve its roster. The Black Hawks added Garrett Brown from Sioux City Monday afternoon and further solidified a blue line that was already one of the league’s best.
Along with that defensive corps, forwards Owen Baker, Garrett Schifsky and Miko Matikka lead the way offensively.
Waterloo is 7-2-1-0 in its last 10 and the Black Hawks are coming off a pair of wins, including another overtime win against Fargo. Waterloo’s .670 win percentage now ranks second in the USHL.
1.) Fargo Force, 27-8-1-3
Last Ranking: 1
The Force have points in 11 straight and have won eight of their last 10. Fargo continues to lead the USHL in wins (31), points (67), goal differential (plus-69) and Fargo’s win percentage is a dominant .761.
Fargo bolstered its lineup Monday as well as the Force acquired forward Zam Plante from Chicago.
Fargo will play five of its next seven at home, including three games against Waterloo, and the Force are 9-1-0-0 in their last 10 at Scheels Arena.