2022-23 USHL Power Rankings

USHL Power Rankings: Fargo Force Claim Top Spot

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. Fargo Force / Last Ranking: 3

Record: 12-3-0-3

Another week, another new team atop FloHockey’s USHL Power Rankings. The Force own the USHL’s best winning percentage at .750 and sit three points ahead of Lincoln in the Western Conference. Fargo’s 12 wins are tied for the most in the USHL and its 27 points are the most in the league.

The Force have claimed points in eight straight games (6-0-0-2) and nine of their last 10 (7-1-0-2). The Force are also an impressive 6-0-0-1 away from Scheels Arena this season. On top of their team success, Cole Knuble has started to heat up as well. The Force have scored 78 goals - the most in the Western Conference - and Knuble has 13 of them. The Notre Dame commit has nine points over his last four games and is currently second in the USHL in both goals (13) and points (27).

2. Chicago Steel / Last Ranking: 2

Record: 12-5-1-1

Holding steady at number two, the Steel still lead the Eastern Conference with 26 points. Chicago has points in six straight games (4-0-1-1) and the Steel are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10. Five of Chicago’s last six games have required overtime or a shootout, but the Steel have emerged victorious in three of them.

Chicago leads the USHL with 84 goals and four of the league’s top seven point producers play for Chicago - Jack Harvey, Michael Emerson, Jayden Perron and Nicholas Moldenhauer (Toronto). On top of their scoring, Chicago has gotten strong play between the pipes as well. Jack Stark was just named the USHL Goalie of the Week.

3. USNTDP / Last Ranking: 4

Record: 10-4-0-1

Up one spot, the USNTDP has played just 15 games this season, which is tied with Dubuque for the fewest in the league. However, with 10 wins and points in 11 of the 15, Team USA has been a mainstay at the top of the Eastern Conference and FloHockey’s rankings.

The USNTDP has won two of its last three games and is 6-4-0-0 in its last 10. James Hagens, one of the top prospects for the 2025 NHL Draft, has been held pointless over the last two games. However, the 16-year-old continues to lead the USNTDP in both goals (8) and points (13) in USHL action.

4. Lincoln Stars / Last Ranking: 1

Record: 12-6-0-0

The Stars surged to the top spot in these rankings earlier this month. However, Lincoln has dropped three of its five games since, including a pair of games at Waterloo. The Stars lost to Sioux Falls last time out and are 6-4-0-0 in their last 10. But make no mistake, Lincoln is still one of the best in the west.

Lincoln’s 12 wins are tied for the most in the USHL and Rocky Russo’s team has continued to find the back of the net. Especially Tanner Ludtke, who has goals in five of the last six games and a team-leading 11 goals and 20 points on the season. Lincoln owns the USHL’s best home win percentage (.875) as well and the Stars are 7-1-0-0 at the Ice Box this season.

5. Waterloo Black Hawks / Last Ranking: 5

Record: 11-6-0-0

The Black Hawks are on a tear as Waterloo is 8-2-0-0 in the last 10 games. Up until a 5-3 loss at Cedar Rapids last time out, Waterloo had won seven straight - including those two wins over Lincoln - and scored 33 goals in that stretch.

Waterloo is currently third in the Western Conference with 22 points, two behind Lincoln and five behind Fargo. The Black Hawks also have a game in-hand on both. If Matt Smaby’s squad continues at the pace they’re currently on, don’t be surprised to see Waterloo crack the top four later this month.

6. Dubuque Fighting Saints / Last Ranking: 9

Record: 9-4-1-1

Another team on a roll in its past 10 (6-2-1-1), Dubuque is riding a five-game point streak (4-0-0-1) and the Fighting Saints are up three spots in this week’s rankings. Dubuque owns a .667 win percentage on the season - the fourth-highest in the USHL - and the Fighting Saints have scored four or more goals in five of their past six games.

Ryan St. Louis has five points in his last three games and his 21 points are tied for the seventh-most in the USHL. Defenseman Max Burkholder, the most recent USHL Defenseman of the Week, recorded a hat trick last time out and has six points (3-3-6) over his last three games

7. Muskegon Lumberjacks / Last Ranking: 7

Record: 10-7-0-0

Winners of back-to-back games over Madison, the Lumberjacks are 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 and sit just one point behind Green Bay and the USNTDP, who are tied for second in the Eastern Conference with 21 points.

The Lumberjacks exploded for 11 goals in the two wins over Madison and have scored 18 goals over their last four games. Muskegon’s 65 goals are the second-most in the east and the fourth-most in the USHL. The scoring has been balanced throughout the lineup as well.

8. Green Bay Gamblers / Last Ranking: 6

Record: 10-7-1-0

Green Bay has won four of its past five games, including three straight over in-state rival Madison. As mentioned above, the Gamblers are currently tied for second in the standings, just five points behind Chicago.

Green Bay is 6-4-0-0 in its last 10 and the Gamblers have been especially good on special teams. Green Bay’s penalty kill (80.9%) is currently the best in the Eastern Conference.

9. Sioux City Musketeers / Last Ranking: 8

Record: 8-6-2-1

After a rough start to the season, Sioux City has really turned it around. The Musketeers have points in five straight games (4-0-0-1) and seven (6-3-0-1) of their last 10.

Sioux City took three of four games from rival Sioux Falls earlier this month and also picked up wins over Omaha and Des Moines in the month of November. Sioux City is currently fourth in the Western Conference with 19 points. Sioux City did fall in a shootout last time out, 4-3 to Tri-City, but will look to continue its winning ways as the calendar flips to December.

10. Cedar Rapids RoughRiders / Last Ranking: 11

Record: 8-7-2-0

Cedar Rapids is just two points behind Dubuque and Muskegon, who are tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference. The RoughRiders upset Waterloo last time out, 5-3, and extinguished a seven-game win streak for the Black Hawks.

Speaking of seven, Cedar Rapids has earned points in seven (6-3-1-0) of its past 10 games. Cedar Rapids has scored five or more goals in three of its past five games, which also includes a dominant 8-2 win over the USNTDP and a 6-5 win over Chicago. Defenseman Eric Pohlkamp had four assists in the win over Waterloo last Saturday and now has 17 points (4-13-17) on the season. That is tied with Lincoln’s Boston Buckberger and Youngstown’s Andrew Strathmann for the most among USHL defensemen.

11. Tri-City Storm / Last Ranking: 16

Record: 8-9-0-1

The Storm found themselves at the bottom of FloHockey’s last round of rankings. However, Tri-City has responded with points in six of its last 10 and Anthony Noreen’s squad has won back-to-back games. As a result, Tri-City is up five spots to No. 11.

Tri-City has also slowly started to make its way back up the Western Conference standings. A team that led the way for most of the first month of the season, Tri-City currently sits in sixth, just one point behind Des Moines and two behind Sioux City. Forward Evan Werner had four goals and two assists in three games last week and was named the USHL Forward of the Week.

12. Youngstown Phantoms / Last Ranking: 10

Record: 6-7-3-1

The Phantoms have had their share of ups and downs as of late. Youngstown dropped its last game - 3-2 to the USNTDP - but still claimed points in eight of their last 10 games (4-2-3-1). However, the Phantoms haven’t been able to make up much ground in the standings. 

Youngstown currently finds itself seventh in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. They’ve allowed the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference (56) but their 57 goals scored rank in the middle of the pack. Shane Lachance (Edmonton Oilers) has scored in back-to-back games and has a team-leading 11 goals. 

13. Des Moines Buccaneers / Last Ranking: 13

Record: 7-8-2-2

Des Moines currently sits fifth in the Western Conference, just one point behind Sioux City and four behind Waterloo. It’s been an up-and-down first few months of the season for the Buccaneers but Des Moines has earned points in six (3-4-1-2) of its last 10 games.

Des Moines has still struggled to get much consistent scoring as the Buccaneers have found the back of the net 50 times, the second-fewest in the USHL. Lubomir Kupco leads the way with six goals, including a pair in Des Moines last game - a 4-3 loss to Dubuque. The Buccaneers open December with five of their first six games at home and will look to build some momentum in Des Moines.

14. Omaha Lancers / Last Ranking: 14

Record: 6-9-3-1

Omaha stays put at No. 14, but the month of November wasn’t a pretty one for the Lancers. Omaha did win its last game at Fargo, 4-3, which can perhaps serve as a springboard heading into December.

However, the Lancers are 2-7-1-0 in their last 10. Omaha has scored 47 goals this season - the fewest in the USHL - and as of late, the Lancers have struggled in their own end. Omaha allowed five or more goals in five different games during the month of November.

15. Sioux Falls Stampede / Last Ranking: 12

Record: 6-10-2-1

The Stampede have dropped three spots in these rankings and have continued to drop in the standings after a scorching hot start. Sioux Falls now sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with 15 points. Eric Rud’s club is a disappointing 2-6-1-1 in its past 10 games and had dropped seven straight.

However, the Stampede did earn an impressive win last time out - 5-3 over Lincoln. They’ll need wins and more consistency if they want to make up lost ground and climb up the standings.

16. Madison Capitols / Last Ranking: 15

Record: 5-11-0-1

It’s been a rough go in Madison as of late. The Capitols have dropped five straight in regulation and nine of their last 10 games overall. Madison’s last win came on Nov. 5 - a 6-5 win over Chicago.

Madison’s biggest issue has been keeping the puck out of its own net. The Capitols have allowed 87 goals this season - by far the most in the USHL - and 27 goals in their last five games. From Madison’s standpoint, a team that reached the Clark Cup Finals in the spring, there’s still plenty of time to turn it around. But as the calendar flips to December, that turning point needs to come soon.