2023-24 USHL Power Rankings

USHL Power Rankings: Fargo Eyes Wins Record, Tops Rankings

Writer Ryan Sikes provides his view on the league every other week with our USHL Power Rankings.

Welcome to FloHockey's bi-monthly power rankings for the USHL. Find out which of the league's 16 teams rise and fall over the course of the long regular season.

1. Fargo Force / Last Ranking: 1

Record: 33-5-2-0

With 33 wins through their first 40 games, Fargo needs 15 wins in their final 22 games to match Des Moines’ single-season record for most wins (48), set in the 1998-1999 season.

Defenseman Leo Gruba continues to piece together an unforgettable campaign, setting a franchise record for the most points by a defenseman in a single season (40).

Added, Hampton Slukynsky (LAK) is tied for the league lead in wins (17), while also owning the best goals-against average (1.76) and save percentage (0.919).

2. Dubuque Fighting Saints / Last Ranking: 2

Record: 25-9-2-3

Dubuque continues to establish itself as the class of the Eastern Conference, collecting points in seven of its last 10 games, including four consecutive.

Noah Powell should be getting more attention as a reentry candidate in the 2024 NHL Draft. He has 13 goals and 20 points in 12 games since the holiday break, including a hat trick on his 19th birthday over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Jake Sondreal also could be an attractive reentry candidate. The Saints team captain quietly leads the team in points (51), while picking up points in all but one game so far in the second half of the season.

3. Green Bay Gamblers / Last Ranking: 3

Record: 22-9-4-2

Green Bay hopes to have a say for first place in the east, trailing Dubuque by five points with two games in hand. 

Despite dropping an overtime contest Sunday in Chicago, the Gamblers have points in seven of their last 10 games.

Jayson Shaugabay’s (TBL) recent move to center continues to be met with praise and success. He has six points in his last four games since the transition.

Netminder Adam Gajan (CHI) will look to get back on track next weekend, having dropped three of his last four games, allowing five goals in back-to-back outings.

4. Sioux City Musketeers / Last Ranking: 4

Record: 23-11-6-0

Sioux City may not catch Fargo in the west, but the Muskies should not be overlooked, having collected points in seven of their last 10 games.

Kaden Shahan is a legitimate sniper, racking up a league-leading 27 goals, including nine in his last 10 games.

Added, Brian Nicholas has points in five straight games and 35 points (10-25-35) in 40 games overall.

5. Muskegon Lumberjacks / Last Ranking: 5

Record: 24-14-1-1

The Jacks held off a late surge from Madison on Sunday to take both games over the weekend.

Sacha Boisvert (2024) is scoring in bunches right now, with multi-goal games in three of his last four games.

Added, Shikhabutdin Gadzhiev has brought some much-needed stability to the Muskegon net. The Russian netminder has won two straight, including Saturday, when he came on in relief and stopped all 17 shots he saw en route to an improbable comeback win for the Lumberjacks.

6. Youngstown Phantoms / Last Ranking: 6

Record: 22-11-4-1

All concerns about Youngstown’s slow start to the second half are in the rearview mirror. 

The Phantoms won both games at home over the weekend against Cedar Rapids and have points in seven of their last 10 games.

Is there a better story in the league right now than goaltender Aiden Wright? 

Since being acquired from the NAHL, the 18-year-old has won his first three games, posting a 1.67 goals-against average and 0.931 save percentage.

7. Waterloo Black Hawks / Last Ranking: 7

Record: 23-13-0-1

This Waterloo team is so fun to watch right now, and they continue to climb the rankings. 

The Black Hawks hold the No. 3 seed in the west, trailing Sioux City by five points, but Waterloo has three games in hand.

John Mustard (2024) went four games without scoring a goal, but the Providence College commit made up for lost time, potting a season-best four goals Saturday against the Muskies.

Jack Spicer’s remarkable turnaround in net in the second half has not gone unnoticed either. 

The 19-year-old has won seven of his last eight starts, allowing two or fewer goals in five of those.

8. Sioux Falls Stampede / Last Ranking: 8

Record: 21-17-3-1

The Herd had a tough weekend against Fargo, but the same can be said for most teams that the Force play this year.

The holiday break seemed to be just what Beckett Hendrickson (BOS) needed, as the Bruins draft pick has nine goals and 19 points in 15 games in the second half.

9. Tri-City Storm / Last Ranking: 10

Record: 18-13-4-4

Tri-City handled the frustration of being swept at home by Des Moines by scoring a franchise-record 12 goals against Omaha on Sunday.

Trevor Connelly (2024) avoided serious injury in a scary play earlier this week. 

He sat out Friday’s game but returned to score on both Saturday and Sunday. The 17-year-old also extended his point streak to 10 games.

Cameron Korpi snapped a two-game skid in net Sunday and is tied for the league lead in wins (17).

10. Madison Capitols / Last Ranking: 9

Record: 17-14-4-2

The Caps are struggling right now, having dropped four straight games and seven of their last 10.

That said, Andrew Kuzma has been a goal-scoring machine lately, finding the back of the net seven times in his last seven games.

Austin Burnevik ended a four-game stretch without a goal, scoring twice in Madison’s loss Sunday.

11. Chicago Steel / Last Ranking: 12

Record: 16-18-3-2

While Madison tries to find its footing, Chicago is closing the gap on the Caps for the No. 5 seed in the east. 

The Steel have points in nine of their last 10 games, including Sunday’s thrilling overtime win.

Michael Hage (2024) has been on another level lately, racking up nine goals and 18 points in 11 games since the holiday break.

Louka Cloutier (2024) should continue to see the lion’s share of starts in net, having collected wins in six of his last eight starts.

12. Lincoln Stars / Last Ranking: 11

Record: 16-19-0-2

Lincoln finds itself in a playoff spot with some great play recently, having gone 7-3-0-0 over its last 10 games.

Jared Mangan has picked up the scoring again, recording four goals and eight points over his last five games.

Lucas Massie’s turnaround has provided a big boost in net for the Stars. He has wins in four straight games since the holiday break.

13. Cedar Rapids RoughRiders / Last Ranking: 13

Record: 14-19-4-2

The Riders had a tough weekend in Youngstown, dropping both games to the Phantoms.

Cedar Rapids is three points back of the sixth, and final, playoff spot in the east.

Ryan O’Connell saw his three-game goal streak end Saturday.

14. Des Moines Buccaneers / Last Ranking: 15

Record: 15-20-4-0

The Bucs picked up an impressive two-game sweep on the road against Tri-City over the weekend.

Adam Zlnka (ARI) seems to be enjoying his new role with Des Moines, potting two goals on Saturday, including the overtime winner.

Meanwhile, Ethan Dahlmeir made three ridiculous saves before Zlnka’s game-winner, snapping a four-game skid.

15. USNTDP / Last Ranking: 14

Record: 13-22-1-1

The NTDP find themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference, dropping eight of their last 10 games.

With two goals Thursday, Teddy Stiga (2024) continues to boost his draft stock in advance of the U18s international break.

16. Omaha Lancers / Last Ranking: 16

Record: 7-28-3-0

Things continue to go south for the Lancers, who have dropped eight straight, including a 12-2 game against Tri-City on Sunday.

Christian Kocsis has goals in three of his last four games.