Nolan Walker

Sioux Falls Stampede (C)

23 GP: 11 goals, 11 assists

4. Omaha Lancers

14-8-2-0, Last Poll: 10

 

The heat is on, indeed. Omaha went 8-1-1-0 in their last 10 games including a season best eight-game win streak earlier in the month. All of the success came at a difficult time for the Lancers, as they balanced goaltending duties between three netminders due to various injuries. First-year goaltender Vincent Purpura went a perfect 4-0-0-0 during the month of December, while rookie Christian Sbaraglia was able to pick up his second consecutive win earlier in the month with a 31-save performance. Veteran Zach Driscoll returned to net going 2-1-1-0 in December, and was able to announce his commitment to Bemidji State. A trio of veterans has led the Lancers offensively, with Christian O’Neill, Cole Gallant and Filip Suchy combining for 60 points and nearly 30% of the team’s total goals. A true team effort has gotten the Lancers this far in the season, and could be the reason for keeping the heat on in Omaha.

 

 

3. Sioux Falls Stampede

14-8-4-2, Last Poll: 4

 

The Stampede head into the year 2018 on a high note, after defeating the league’s top team in back-to-back games. Sioux Falls defeated Fargo on the road in overtime, and then followed up the performance with a shootout win at home. Perhaps one of the most underrated players in the USHL this season, Nolan Walker has been performing at nearly a point-per-game pace scoring in 10 of his last 11 games. The St. Cloud State commit missed some time while playing internationally for Team USA at the World Junior A Challenge, but still managed to score three goals and two assists in five games during December. The Stampede have also been without the services of Winnipeg Jets prospect Mikhail Berdin, who has been with Team Russia at the World Junior Championship. Goaltending will continue to be important the rest of the season for a team that ranks last with an average of 35.71 shots allowed per game. One aspect that can help balance that offensive flurry? A deadly power play. The Stampede head into January with a league-best 30 power play goals and 24.6% success rate.