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USHL Fall Classic

The USHL recently held their USHL Fall Classic, which is the new name for the Buc Bowl, now that the tournament is no longer exclusively held in Des Moines. A lot of people asked if I went to cover the event, to which I say, I think you greatly over-estimate this site's budget.

The USHL Hockey Blog was at the event, however, and came up with some power rankings based on what they saw.

Omaha, who won all of their games by at least 4 goals, tops the list, and looks to be the class of the league. The Lancers also have some interesting uncommitted players on their roster. The first is Oakdale, Minnesota native Ben Arnt, who would have been a senior at North St. Paul HS this year had he stayed in Minnesota. He looks like he could have a big year. Arnt is a pure goal-scorer, and it looks like he'll get some powerplay time with the Lancers in his second year. Next is Duluth-native Chris Connolly, who had two big years for the Fargo-Moorhead Jets in the NAHL, and has continued to put points up for Omaha. His younger brother Jack is already committed to UMD for 2009. Finally, defenseman Patrick Wiercioch has been impressive since moving to the USHL from British Columbia and is quickly becoming one of the top priorities for many teams.

Cedar Rapids looks like the second best team in the league. They're led by two goalies that would have been seniors in Minnesota HS hockey this year, but opted for the USHL in Kent Patterson and Brady Hjelle. Hjelle logged almost of the minutes in the preseason and put up impressive numbers. Patterson will be in his second year with the Roughriders, and is one of the top goaltending prospects available. Blaine High School grad Ben Lynch had an impressive start to his season, registering 5 points. Another uncommitted player to keep an eye on is Stefan Salituro who moved to the USHL from Ontario to get more looks from colleges. He played his midget hockey with the Toronto Marlies and was a 5th round pick of the Ottawa 67's in the OHL Priority Draft.

A bit of a surprise was that Ohio was 3rd in the power rankings. This is just their second year as a franchise, and their first year was a bit of a disaster. They could struggle offensively, as they only scored 7 goals in 4 games, but it looks like they've got a talented defense with three very good, underrated '90 birthdates in Steve Spinell, Luke Witkowski, and Greg Pateryn.

Teams have to cut their rosters down to 23 players now that the Fall Classic is over. The USHL Hockey Blog has most of the transactions. Alaska recruit Tim Revell and Colorado College recruit Andrew Hamburg were the only two committed players to be released.