Madison Capitols (RW)
23 GP: 15 goals, 4 assists
17. Madison Capitols
9-14-0-2, Last Poll: 15
Despite coming in last in this month’s power rankings, Madison has picked up five of its last six possible points to move just three points out of the top-six in the Eastern Conference heading into 2018. The steady offensive hand of Alec Broetzman continues to lead the way for the Capitols. The Michigan Tech commit is coming off a month where he finished with five goals and seven points, and he remains the team leader in scoring with 23 points (12G, 11A) through 25 games. Madison has also seen its share of offensive contributions from rookies. Ryan O’Reilly continues to regularly find the back of the net, with five goals in eight games in December. He currently leads all rookies and is second among rookies in scoring with 19 points (15G, 4A) through 23 games. Michael Mancinelli also came on strong in the second half of December, with four goals and five points in his last five games, including a pair of multi-point efforts. They will need to keep that pace up if Madison wants to continue climbing up the standings in the second half of the season.
16. Des Moines Buccaneers
9-14-0-1, Last Poll: 14
Although they currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference, there are plenty of things for the Buccaneers to be hopeful about heading into the new calendar year. For one, they only sit four points out of a playoff spot, and it appears that some of the team’s best hockey is ahead of them. Kaden Bohlsen, the 10th overall pick in last season’s USHL Phase I Draft, will be joining the Buccaneers for the remainder of the season from the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary’s program. He will look to bolster the Buccaneers offense and get his new team on track offensively for the second half of the season. Julian Napravnik continues to be a steady offensive presence for Des Moines, with eight points (5G, 3A) in eight December games. The German forward currently leads the team in scoring with 19 points (10G, 9A) through 24 games. Defenseman Marshall Rifai is also playing well on the back end. The Harvard commit is currently tied for sixth among all USHL defensemen in scoring with 14 points (2G, 12A). Des Moines will play six of their 10 January games at home in Buccaneer Arena, and they hope that some home cooking will help them start to make a move in the Western Conference standings.
15. Central Illinois Flying Aces
10-13-1-2, Last Poll: 12
Including Tuesday’s tough 2-1 loss to Green Bay, Central Illinois has earned a point in each of its last five games and currently sits just three points out of the top-six in the Eastern Conference. Cameron Burke was the offensive catalyst for the Flying Aces in the month of December, with 10 points (2G, 8A) in nine games, tied for third among all USHL players during the final month of 2017. Another veteran, Griffin Lunn (7 PTS in 9 games), also had a solid offensive stretch through December. Along with those two veterans, Jakub Lacka (19 PTS), Max Andreev and Cal Kiefiuk (15 PTS) have also been the prime offensive suspects among non-rookies for the Flying Aces. After the loss of Tyler Madden to the Tri-City Storm, Drew Elser is leading the way among Flying Aces rookies with eight points (6G, 2A) in 14 games. He is also second in the USHL in shooting percentage (28.6%), showing that he makes the most of his scoring opportunities. He will need to continue to do so for his team to make some noise in the second half of the season.