Monday, January 24, 2011

B³ USHL Power Rankings: January 24

It's been a while since I've done this, but I thought I'd give it a shot again. Since I don't have a whole lot of time to devote to the power rankings (and since I know Yeti is swamped with many things, and he knows as well as I do how long these can take), what I want to do is a last 10 games type of thing. So the next time I plan to update these is when teams have played 10 more games (give or take a couple depending on how hectic life is). It's been too long since the last rankings, so no previous rankings are included. Consider this a fresh start for the second half of the season.

Yeti always says he doesn't want to include Team USA in these rankings, and I don't either anymore. It's too tough to judge a team that is split into two teams. So I'll just put a blurb about them at the end.

1. Green Bay Gamblers (25-8-2, 52 pts, 1st East, Last 10: 7-3-0, 14 pts)
The Gamblers are four points up on Cedar Rapids in the race for the Clark Cup and continue to set the pace. They are 13-0-1 at home, and that one loss was their home opener. If you are playing at Green Bay any time soon, don't expect to come away with a win.

2. Indiana Ice (20-11-2, 42 pts, 3rd East, Last 10: 9-1-0, 18 pts)
This team hovered near the bottom of the East early in the season in a very underachieving fashion. But now they can do no wrong, having won 16 of their last 18 games. The top three in the East (Green Bay, Cedar Rapids, Indiana) have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the East once again. It's still early, but if it holds, those three would be the top three in the USHL East for the third straight year.

3. Cedar Rapids Rough Riders (22-6-4, 48 pts, 2nd East, 6-2-2, 14 pts)
The Forest Rang...err Rough Riders have slipped a bit off the torrid pace they started the season at, but still remain just four points out of the lead for the Anderson Cup with three games in hand on Green Bay.

4. Fargo Force (19-13-4, 42 pts, 2nd West, Last 10: 7-3-0, 14 pts)
The Force just continue to win and climb the standings. Now just three points behind Dubuque for first in the West, this is a team that will be very dangerous in the playoffs. Ryan Massa has the second-best GAA in the league (1.95). They've played 36 games right now, though, which is far more than everyone else in the West, so their point total is a bit skewed.

5. Des Moines Buccaneers (18-10-2, 38 pts, 4th West, Last 10: 8-2-0, 16 pts)
Des Moines played Dubuque five times in the last 11 games in a very uncommon USHL scheduling quirk........anyway, in those five games, Des Moines went 3-2. The Bucs are a solid team and with only 30 games played, they could very easily be in second place in the West right now with just a couple more games played. Their schedule helps them a lot though. For example, besides the three wins against Dubuque and one over Tri-City, the other wins in their last 10 games came over Waterloo (twice), Muskegon and Youngstown.

6. Sioux Falls Stampede (18-11-4, 40 pts, 3rd West, 7-2-1, 15 pts)
The Stampede had won seven in a row before Saturday's loss at Team USA U-17s. They've climbed all the way up to third in the West.

7. Dubuque Fighting Saints (20-8-5, 45 pts, 1st West, 3-4-3, 9 pts)
The "Saints" have slipped recently. They lost four in a row and three in a row in their last 10 games. In those seven losses, Dubuque has scored two or fewer goals. If this keeps up, look for the other West contenders to pass them soon. Dubuque has held the top spot for the majority of the season.

8. Omaha Lancers (17-10-4, 38 pts, 5th West, Last 10: 5-4-1, 11 pts)
The Lancers have given up a league-low 75 goals this year, but are only in fifth place in the West...their 91 goals scored isn't a great total, but it's not awful. So that means they must lose a lot of close games. Eight of their 14 losses are by one goal.

9. Lincoln Stars (16-14-2, 34 pts, 7th West, 5-4-1, 11 pts)
The Stars got five out of six points last week against Western competition. Although in seventh, they are just a three or four game winning streak out of potentially being in the top four. Eight points separate last from second in the West right now. That's incredible.

10. Muskegon Lumberjacks (14-14-6, 34 pts, 4th East, Last 10: 4-5-1, 9 pts)
The Lumberjacks are hanging on to fourth in the East. They saw Indiana pass them up, and now Team USA is threatening to do the same. Muskegon is always kind of just hovering around .500, which is exactly what they are right now. They've allowed 137 goals (4.0 per game) and somehow are still in fourth place. That's just strange. Their offense is very good...if they'd ever just learn to play some defense, they could be a real threat in the playoffs.

11. Tri-City Storm (14-12-6, 34 pts, 8th West, Last 10: 3-5-2, 8 pts)
The Storm are at the bottom of the West right now, but by the time I do the next rankings, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them in fourth or something like that. That's just the way the West is this year. Tri-City does need to score more goals though. They only have 76 on the year, 15 fewer than the next lowest Western teams.

12. Sioux City Musketeers (16-15-3, 35 pts, 6th West, Last 10: 3-6-1, 7 pts)
The Muskies have struggled to get wins of late. They are in sixth with 35 points, but have played two more games than Lincoln and Tri-City below them.

13. Youngstown Phantoms (13-18-3, 29 pts, 6th East, Last 10: 4-4-2, 10 pts)
The Phantoms split overtime games this past weekend, but still give up way too many goals and don't score nearly enough to be a consistent threat.

14. Waterloo Blackhawks (11-16-5, 27 pts, 7th East, Last 10: 2-6-2, 6 pts)
Waterloo started the season 6-2-1, but since then is 5-14-4. They had 13 points in their first nine games and have 14 points in their last 23 games. Ouch. Mike Montagna, who didn't make the Stars, has 7 goals and 12 assists. I wonder what he could've done for Lincoln this year.

15. Chicago Steel (7-22-5, 19 pts, 8th East, Last 10: 0-9-1, 1 pt)
17 losses in a row. Do I need to say any more? Remember how far back Thanksgiving was? Chicago's last win came the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Yikes.

NR. Team USA (14-16-3, 31 pts, 4th East, Last 10: 6-3-1, 10 pts)
Their 18s are very good. Their 17s are OK. Team USA would muddy up the playoff picture pretty good. It could be interesting.

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