2022-23 USHL Power Rankings

USHL Power Rankings: Lincoln Unseats Chicago On Top

USHL writer Jordan McAlpine delivers his power rankings every other week throughout the 2022-23 season.

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. Lincoln Stars / Last Ranking: 4

Record: 10-3-0-0

For the first time this season, a team other than Chicago occupies the top spot in FloHockey’s USHL Power Rankings. The Stars - winners of four straight - are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 and have taken 20 of a possible 26 points this season. Lincoln is a dominant 6-1-0-0 on home ice and there’s something special brewing in Nebraska’s capital city. 

Their 53 goals are the second-most in the Western Conference, while they've allowed 30 goals – the fewest in the USHL. Cameron Whitehead (Vegas Golden Knights) has been excellent between the pipes and the Stars have gotten contributions up and down the lineup. Six Stars already have double-digit point totals, led by Mason Marcellus. Marcellus is seventh in the USHL with 17 points.

2. Chicago Steel / Last Ranking: 1

Record: 9-5-0-1

The Steel drop one spot this week, more so as a result of Lincoln’s stellar play. Chicago still sits atop the Eastern Conference with 19 points and the Steel have earned points in seven of their last 10.

Chicago leads the league with 72 goals - 14 more than the next closest team - and five of the league’s top nine scorers call Fox Valley Ice Arena home. That includes the top four point producers as Jack Harvey has 24 and Nicholas Moldenhauer (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jayden Perron and Michael Emerson are tied at 19. Harvey also leads the league with 14 goals. It’s been a great start to the season and the Steel continue to prove their ranking at or near the top of the league.

3. Fargo Force / Last Ranking: 2

Record: 9-3-0-2

The only team overshadowing Fargo in the Western Conference is Lincoln. The Force have a four-game point streak, have won three of their past four and are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10.

Nick Oliver’s group has continued to score seemingly at ease, with a conference-leading 58 goals, including 10 from Cole Knuble. Fargo took five of a possible six points last weekend despite playing three road games in three days. Four of those points came via a pair of wins at Omaha. The Force are 6-0-0-1 away from home this season.

4. USNTDP / Last Ranking: 3

Record: 7-2-0-1

The USNTDP trails Chicago by four points in the Eastern Conference standings. However, Chicago has played five more games. Team USA is currently riding a five-game point streak (4-0-0-1) and whether it’s the U18 or the U17 team, both have fared well on a nightly basis.

The USNTDP has played just one USHL game in November - a 4-3 shootout loss against Youngstown - but for good reason. Both teams were busy at international events with the U18s winning the Five Nations Tournament they hosted, while the U17s won the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in dominant fashion.

5. Waterloo Black Hawks / Last Ranking: 9

Record: 8-5-0-0

Waterloo leaped three spots in FloHockey’s last USHL Power Rankings. This time the Black Hawks jump four spots, all the way to No. 5. Speaking of four, the Black Hawks have won four straight.

Waterloo scored a dozen goals against Tri-City last weekend in a 7-1 drubbing on Friday and a 5-1 win to complete the sweep. Waterloo has now won six of its last seven and is currently third in the Western Conference.

6. Green Bay Gamblers / Last Ranking: 7

Record: 7-6-1-0

Green Bay is 5-4-1-0 in its last 10 and the Gamblers are tied for second in the Eastern Conference with 15 points. In that recent stretch, the Gamblers have won three of four games against Muskegon, which is why they're leapfrogging the Lumberjacks on this week's ranking. 

Goalie Kristoffer Eberly has started more games than any netminder in the league, posting a 7-3-1-0 record in nearly 640 minutes of action.

7. Muskegon Lumberjacks / Last Ranking: 5

Record: 7-6-0-0

Despite a recent 3-0 loss to Green Bay, Muskegon is 6-4-0-0 in its last 10. The Lumberjacks have also scored 47 times this season - the second-most in the Eastern Conference - and are led by Jake Richard (Buffalo Sabres) who has 12 points on the season.

Muskegon is fourth in the Eastern Conference, trailing the USNTDP and Green Bay by just one point. However, the Lumberjacks have played one fewer game than the Gamblers this season and are 1-3 in four games against their divisional rivals to date.

8. Sioux City Musketeers / Last Ranking: 15

Record: 7-6-2-0

The defending Clark Cup champs are starting to find their footing and the Musketeers are on a roll. Winners of three straight, Sioux City is 7-3-0-0 in its last 10 and has jumped from eighth to being tied for third in the Western Conference. They've come a long way from starting the season with five consecutive losses.

Ryan Conmy scored three goals last weekend, including two in a win over Des Moines, and is now tied for second in the USHL with 10 on the season. Sioux City’s Axel Mangbo - the USHL Goaltender of the Week - has also been stellar between the pipes as of late after a tricky start to the season. He is 4-4-1-0 on the season with a 2.82 goals-against average.

9. Dubuque Fighting Saints / Last Ranking: 10

Record: 6-4-1-0

Besides the USNTDP, the Fighting Saints have played the fewest games in the USHL (11) and Dubuque owns the third-highest win percentage in the Eastern Conference at .591. 

There’s a lot to like with Dubuque’s roster and despite the smaller sample size, the Fighting Saints have played well as of late. They’ve picked up points in six of their past eight games and are 5-4-1-0 in their past 10. Dubuque’s power play has stayed hot as well and is clicking at 26.7%, the third-best mark in the league.

10. Youngstown Phantoms / Last Ranking: 16

Record: 5-5-1-1

The Phantoms have jumped six spots from the basement to No. 10. They’ve also jumped a spot in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to their five-game point streak (3-0-1-1). Youngstown’s problem early on was the lack of consistent goal-scoring, but the Phantoms have been surging as of late.

The Phantoms exploded for seven goals in a 7-2 win over Dubuque and fell to the Fighting Saints in a shootout the next night, 6-5. However, that shootout loss might be the most impressive game in the point streak. Youngstown trailed by deficits 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2 in that game yet they still rallied to earn a point.

11. Cedar Rapids RoughRiders / Last Ranking: 12

Record: 6-5-2-0

The RoughRiders have earned points in seven of their past 10 (5-3-2-0) and finds themselves tied with Muskegon with 14 points. Cedar Rapids won its last game in a shootout - 6-5 over Chicago - and the RoughRiders have won three of their past four.

Cedar Rapids has continued its winning ways on home ice (5-3-0-0) and Mark Carlson’s team has earned at least a point in three of their five road games. If the RoughRiders want to take a step though, they have to score - especially on the road. Cedar Rapids has scored just nine goals in five road games, which is by far the fewest in the league.

12. Sioux Falls Stampede / Last Ranking: 8

Record: 5-8-1-0

The Stampede are one of three Western Conference teams currently riding a losing streak of three games or longer - Omaha and Tri-City being the others. Sioux Falls is currently tied with Omaha for sixth in the Western Conference standings and is 2-7-1-0 over its last 10 games.

However, the Stampede’ power play continues to be among the league’s best and they've been a good road team, earning points in four of their eight games away from home. Now they need to get back on track at the Denny Sanford Center.

13. Des Moines Buccaneers / Last Ranking: 14

Record: 6-7-1-1

The Buccaneers grabbed three of a possible six points in their second three-in-three weekend in a three-week stretch. Des Moines has picked up points in five of its last 10 games and quietly climbed the Western Conference standings. The Buccaneers are currently in fifth place with 14 points.

Michael Bevilacqua leads Des Moines with nine points, while three players are tied with a team-leading four goals, which includes San Jose Sharks pick Joey Muldowney. Des Moines has been good at home as of late as the Buccaneers have points in five of their last seven home games. They'll still need more consistent goal-scoring if they want to continue turning this thing around.

14. Omaha Lancers / Last Ranking: 6

Record: 4-8-2-1

The Lancers find themselves in a funk as Omaha is currently riding a league-worst six-game losing streak. The Lancers are also 2-7-1-0 in their last 10. Between the penalty minutes mounting up and a goal drought, the Lancers have been their own worst enemy.

Omaha still has the league’s most talented goaltender in Michael Hrabal, who has been better than his numbers may indicate. And despite being tied for sixth in the west, Omaha is just five points back of third-place Waterloo. But if the Lancers want to climb up these rankings and more importantly the standings, they’ll need to revert to their early-season form.

15. Madison Capitols / Last Ranking: 13

Record: 5-6-0-1

Madison is young and lost a lot from last year’s team that made a run to the Clark Cup Finals. However, the Capitols still have depth and a lot of talent - led by Quinn Finley and Miko Matikka.

However, the Capitols have allowed a league-worst 60 goals, including 30 over the past five games. Madison has been able to overcome it at times, as the club is 5-4-0-1 in its past 10, but Corey Leivermann’s squad is currently last in the Eastern Conference.

16. Tri-City Storm / Last Ranking: 11

Record: 5-8-0-0

Tri-City occupied the No. 2 spot in Week 1 of these rankings, but the Storm have slid in each of the last three weeks - this time all the way to the bottom. The Storm sit at the bottom of the Western Conference and Tri-City’s 10 points are the fewest in the USHL. 

The Storm has scored just 35 goals - tied with Omaha for the fewest in the USHL - and they've have allowed 56, the second-most in the league. Tri-City has been outscored 16-2 during their current three-game losing streak. Another alarming stat is that their goal differential was minus-8 in the last ranking. It’s since dropped to minus-21 in just two weeks.