Monday, October 25, 2010

B³ USHL Power Rankings: 10/25

Welcome to second edition of the weekly USHL Power Rankings. These are not official, just this blogger's opinion. I hope to get some comments from blog readers who either agree or disagree with some teams. Remember, I don't see all these teams play, so these are not the opinion of an expert, just a casual observer.

Previous week's ranking in parentheses
1. (5) Dubuque Fighting Saints (5-2-0, 10 pts)
The Fighting Saints take over the top spot after two impressive 4-1 wins. The Saints beat Omaha on Friday and Youngstown on Saturday, both at home. Dubuque is tied for first in the USHL with 10 points through seven games, and they have scored a league-best 29 goals. Dubuque has won five straight after opening the season 0-2. This is a very talented expansion team that had a very good weekend in their first two games at home this season.

2. (1) Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (4-1-0, 8 pts)
The RoughRiders dropped their first game of the season to Chicago at home, 3-2, in their only game of the weekend. Cedar Rapids still possesses the league’s best winning percentage at .800, having played only five games to date. The RoughRiders are allowing just 1.6 goals per game.

3. (4) Sioux City Musketeers (5-2-0, 10 pts)
Like the Fighting Saints, the Muskies also went 2-0 this weekend, beating Des Moines in a shootout, 5-4, on Friday and then upending Tri-City, 6-1, on Saturday. Sioux City shares the USHL lead with 10 points, and they are 2-0 on the road.

4. (6) Sioux Falls Stampede (4-2-0, 8 pts)
With a 2-1 win in overtime at Fargo, Sioux Falls has won three straight. Despite its 4-2 record, Sioux Falls has been outscored on the year 16-19. Still, 8 points in six games gets them near the top no matter how ugly their two losses.

5. (10) Green Bay Gamblers (4-2-1, 9 pts)
Green Bay went 2-0 on the weekend with wins over Waterloo and Team USA. Although the competition wasn't the most quality, 9 points has Green Bay at the top of the Eastern Conference, a place they are familiar to. I'm still not entirely sold on Green Bay because they beat Waterloo in overtime at home and the U-17 Team USA squad. They haven't beaten a team with a winning record yet. Green Bay will be tested Nov. 5-6, when they travel to Dubuque and Sioux City.

6. (8) Chicago Steel (4-4-0, 8 pts)
Through eight games, Chicago's results look like this: W, L, W, L, W, L, W, L...any bets on what their next two results will be? But seriously, Chicago went on the road and beat the only undefeated team in the USHL in Cedar Rapids, and then went and lost to a Lincoln Stars team that was 0-3 at home this season. Hockey's a great game, isn't it? I put Chicago ahead of Fargo because of their two wins over them.

7. (9) Fargo Force (4-3-1, 9 pts)
Fargo dismantled Youngstown, 5-2, on Thursday and lost to Sioux Falls at home in overtime, 2-1, on Saturday. The Force are in third place in the Western Conference with 9 points through eight games.

8. (11) Indiana Ice (3-3-1, 7 pts)
Indiana went 1-0-1 on the weekend, falling to Muskegon in a shootout on Friday and winning against Omaha, 3-0, on Sunday. The Ice were actually outshot 35-30 in their win over the Lancers.

9. (13) Tri-City Storm (2-2-3, 7 pts)
The Storm were 1-1 this weekend, defeating the Lincoln Stars, 4-3, on Friday night, and getting routed at Sioux City, 6-1, on Saturday. Still, the Storm rank ahead of Youngstown because of their win over the Phantoms earlier in the season. In a weird USHL scheduling quirk, the Storm will face Sioux City this weekend for the second and third games in a row.

10. (3) Youngstown Phantoms (4-4-0, 8 pts)
It takes a lot to drop from 3 to 10 after just two games, but Youngstown's results did just that to them. The Phantoms had a phantom of a week, losing at Fargo 5-2 on Thursday and at Dubuque 4-1 on Saturday. That marks three straight three-goal losses for Youngstown, which has allowed a league-worst 27 goals.

11. (2) Omaha Lancers (3-3-0, 6 pts)
I'll take the blame here for misreading the Lancers so far. I had them at No. 2 last week when they were 3-2, and I got a couple e-mails from people saying they weren't that good just yet. Those people were right. Omaha got smoked in two games this weekend, 4-1 at Dubuque and 3-0 at Indiana. The Lancers are having trouble scoring, posting only 10 goals in six games (not even two goals per game). Their leading scorers have three points. By comparison, Dubuque has 12 players with more than three points, three of them being defensemen.

12. (7) Team USA (3-4-0, 6 pts)
The U-17's lost to Green Bay, 3-1, this weekend, and that was the only game for Team USA. Team USA is sixth in the Eastern Conference.

13. (12) Des Moines Buccaneers (1-1-2, 4 pts)
Des Moines only played once this weekend, losing to Sioux City in a shootout. I put the Bucs this high because their three losses came to teams with a combined 14-8 record. The Buccaneers' win over Green Bay is looking more impressive now.

14. (14) Waterloo Blackhawks (2-2-1, 5 pts)
Waterloo only played once this weekend, losing to Green Bay, 2-1 in overtime. The Blackhawks are tied for last in the Eastern Conference with Muskegon.

15. (15) Lincoln Stars (2-4-0, 4 pts)
The Stars fall in here because they still have the worst winning percentage in the USHL right now (.333), despite a 1-1 weekend. But the Stars are coming to life, I believe. With the best power-play in the USHL and the momentum from a big win at home against Chicago, the Stars may turn the corner soon. They still have to shore up the defense, as the Stars are allowing too many goals to be consistently competitive. Forward Ryan Dzingel leads the league in scoring with 11 points (5g, 6a).

16. (16) Muskegon Lumberjacks (2-3-1, 5 pts)
Muskegon went 1-0 on the weekend, beating Indiana in a shootout at home. The Lumberjacks are allowing a league-worst 4.17 goals per game.


tzweeb said...

ok i have to admit, when i saw you posted this again, i had to scroll down to see where the stars fell in this week... lol
it wont be long and i will have to read a few first then see where we are, but after what looks like our guys are starting to gel, i was hoping to move up a few!!
thanks for this feature!!

BellTolls said...

weeb, I'd love to move the Stars up naturally...but I don't want to be labeled a homer! They've got to continue to keep proving themselves. Saturday night was an excellent start.

Davvolun said...

Obviously we all want to see the Stars at the top spot, and I think you've done a great job giving them a fair shake by not being biased one way or the other, but what about leaving the Stars out of an "official" ranking? Maybe you could discuss the Stars and give them an unofficial ranking, and then rank all the other teams "officially"? Of course that all depends on how well you think you can rank them in an unbiased manner...personally, that's not a job I'd want to take; I would want to get carried away shouting about how the Stars are #1 (and also, who wants to get in arguments with other fans about where their team should be ranked?).

Anyway, just a thought, I think you've done an incredible job here. I'm sure this probably takes like half a day to put together every time, but I find it really useful to check myself on (just like your re-ranking with Omaha).

BellTolls said...

Thanks for the comment, Davvolun. I try my best to be unbiased. I just look at Lincoln's body of work this season and rank them according to how they're playing compared to other teams.

And yeah, it can be quite a bit of work, but it's fun. I usually start on Sunday night and finish sometime Monday night (not working straight through of course). It helps to keep up-to-date on the rest of the USHL, since it gets harder and harder with the league expanding.