The usahockeymagazine.com December Power Rankings takes a look at the USHL heading into the final month of 2018. Media members from around the USHL rank the teams 1st to 17th, and the votes are compiled into overall rankings. Power Rankings are determined on a monthly basis and run through the end of the regular season. Listed below are the teams, their record and number of first place votes in parenthesis.
6-10-1-2, Last Poll: 17
The Madison Capitols have shown signs of improvement as of late, highlighted most recently by a crucial victory of Central Illinois. The key factor to the Capitols success thus far stands between the pipes, goaltender Joey Lamoreaux. Lamoreaux currently ranks second in the USHL among all netminders with a .925 SV% and third in the league with a 2.53 GAA. If the team can string together more offensive production, they stand a chance to move up the ranks with Lamoreaux in net.
6-12-0-2, Last Poll: 15
The Omaha Lancers are finding their team chemistry as the calendar turns to December. The team is still looking to find consistency at both ends of the ice, but there is plenty of potential throughout the Omaha roster. One key component to the Lancers success is rookie defenseman John Prokop, who missed the early portion of the season with an injury, but is back and was recently named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
6-10-3-1, Last Poll: 14
The Lincoln Stars recently snapped a five-game winless streak by earning a much-needed victory over Omaha on Nov. 30th to wrap up the second month of the season. The team will continue to for offensive leadership from rookie Shane Pinto, who was named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Pinto currently leads the team with 23 points (12G, 11A), ranking him second among all USHL rookies. The Stars face a tough December schedule with strong opponents such as Sioux City, Des Moines, and Waterloo all on the horizon.
8-9-0-3, Last Poll: 16
The Youngstown Phantoms have made impressive strides since their start to the season, improving to 8-9-0-3, with six of those eight wins coming in their last 10 games. The team has been led offensively by forward Brett Murray, whose team-high 20 points (9G, 11A), place him just outside the top 10 among all USHL forwards. The Phantoms will have to prove themselves yet again in the month of December, which includes a three game home series against the Chicago Steel.
8-9-0-2, Last Poll: 11
The Team USA U17s and 18s each only played in four games this past month, and the same storyline continued for both groups. The U17s are continuing to find their game as a young group, while the U18s once again impressed offensively with a high goal count for the month. In their last five games, the U18 squad has earned 24 goals while allowing only 12 goals against. The two squads will have an even lighter schedule in December due to the holiday break and international competition, including Jack Hughes and Spencer Knight playing for Team USA in the 2019 World Junior Championship. The pair are the first two current USHL players to be named to the World Junior Championship roster since Chicago Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys in 2016.
8-10-2-1, Last Poll: 12
The Green Bay Gamblers were able to pick up some key victories in the month of November, including a 6-3 victory over the league’s top team, the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Despite currently sitting two games under the .500 mark, the Gamblers have remained extremely competitive in the majority of their contests. Defenseman Nick Leitner has been one crucial element to the Gamblers success, ashis 13 points (2G, 11A) good for 7th among USHL blueliners.
9-7-2-1, Last Poll: 3
Sioux Falls Stampede faced one of their tougher months of hockey in November, but the future is looking bright for this young team. The Stampede recently had six players, more than any other USHL team, named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Ryan Johnson, Jami Krannila, Anthony Romano, Austen Swankler, Andre Lee, and Ethan Phillips were all tapped as top talent and will certainly provide the Herd increased production moving forward.
9-9-1-2, Last Poll: 9
The Dubuque Fighting Saints have maintained a solid level of play through the second full month of games this season, earning a 9-9-1-2 record. The team has been led by the offensive pairing of Matias Maccelli (10G, 13A) and James Sanchez (7G, 15A) who have combined for 45 points on the season. The Fighting Saints have plenty of skill to lean on as the season continues, with four players (Matias Maccelli, Michael Feenstra, Dylan and Ty Jackson) recently named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
10-10-2-0, Last Poll: 8
After one of their strongest starts in years, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders find themselves at the .500 mark through the first weekend of December. Despite recent challenges, the RoughRiders remain in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, and with two players (Grant Silanoff and Will Francis), recently named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, there is plenty of reason for optimism as the team rounds out 2018 play.
12-7-1-0, Last Poll: 13
The Chicago Steel are trending in the right direction, as they currently riding an eight-game win streak which has catapulted them into second place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 12-7-1-0. The team has seen a myriad of new offense talent stepping up to the plate, led by forwards Nick Abruzzese and Adam Robbins. The pair has combined for 40 points this season, Abruzzese (5G, 17A), a Harvard University commit, was recently named USHL Forward of the Week.
11-11-2-0, Last Poll: 6
Despite struggling in recent contests, the Central Illinois Flying Aces have plenty of reasons to be excited about the future of the team this season. The Flying Aces third in the Eastern Conference, with three players - Ryan Siedem, Trevor Janicke, and Lynden Breen - who were named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Janicke leads the way with 22 points (7G, 15A) through 24 games, while goaltender Ryan Snowden has performed admirably between the pipes, posting a 2.93 GAA (7th in USHL) and .908 SV% (4th in USHL).
11-7-1-2, Last Poll: 10
After a slower start to the season, the defending Clark Cup champion Fargo Force have turned their game up a notch, going 8-3-0-1 in their last 12 contests. Forward Hank Crone continues to lead the Force in offensive production, his 25 points (4G, 21A) good for sixth in USHL scoring. The month of December will be a tough test for the Force, as they face Western Conference leader Tri-City four times.
13-8-1-1, Last Poll: 5
After a stellar start to the season, Des Moines continued the trend in November, going 5-3-1-1, earning 12 of a possible 20 points. The Buccaneers offense continues to put up big numbers, with 84 goals (2nd in USHL) led by the efforts of Matt Brown and TJ Walsh. Brown and Walsh have combined for 55 points, earning them third and fourth place honors in USHL scoring, respectively.
12-6-3-1, Last Poll: 4
The Waterloo BlackHawks have continued to play extremely well since their hot start to the season. However, with consistent play they maintain their fourth place position in the Western Conference, as they finished 6-4-0-0 in the month of November to improve to 12-6-3-1 overall. Of their six victories this past month, five came against Eastern Conference opponents. Forward Matej Blumel, who will be representing his team at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, continues to lead the team in scoring 31 points (14G, 17A), good for second in the USHL.
13-4-2-0, Last Poll: 7
The Sioux City Musketeers took the month of November by storm, winning seven of their last eight games and improving to 13-4-2-0 on the year. The Musketeers have climbed 4 spots in the rankings, thanks largely to the impressive offensive production of forwards Bobby Brink and Calgary Flames prospect Martin Pospisil, who have combined for 64 points so far this year. Brink currently leads the USHL in scoring with 33 points and is skyrocketing up 2019 NHL Draft boards, while Pospisil is tied for second with 31 points.
16-4-1-0, Last Poll: 2
The Tri-City Storm maintained their hold on the number two slot for the second straight month, improving to 16-4-1-0. The Storm are currently riding a six-game win streak and remain undefeated against Eastern Conference opponents this season. Tri-City continues to rely on strong defense and goaltending, allowing just 43 goals so far this season, the least of any team in the USHL. Rookie goalie Isaiah Saville remains the top USHL netminder, with a 1.56 GAA and .937 SV%. Defenseman and team captain Ronnie Attard has emerged as a two-way threat, his six goals are good for third among USHL blueliners.
18-3-0-0, Last Poll: 1
The Muskegon Lumberjacks hold the top spot for the second consecutive month as they continued their dominant start through the first weekend of December, improving to 18-3-0-0 on the season. The Jacks offense lit up the scoresheets this past month, earning 54 goals, improving their overall total to 107, the highest among any team in the USHL. Forwards Egor Afanasyev and Bobby Lynch headlined the offensive efforts, and the pair are currently tied for fifth in USHL scoring with 26 points each. On the blue line, Alex Yakovenko has emerged as a major offensive threat, leading all USHL defensemen with 24 points and earning Defenseman of the Week honors twice in the last month. Muskegon’s success is rounded out between the pipes, as goaltender Brandon Bussi continues to anchor the team in net. Bussi currently holds a 18-1-0-0 record to go along with a 2.11 GAA (2nd in USHL) and .923 SV% (3rd in USHL).
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 17th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2018-19. The USHL had a record 45 players selected at the 2018 NHL Draft, more than any junior league in the world, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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