With the United States Hockey League basically dragging their feet when it comes down to announceing the Divisional Alignment for the 2010-2011 season. A majority of reports and even a couple of the teams like the Des Moines Buccaneers have basically said that the Alignment will have a 3 division Format with the East & Central Division's having 5 teams, while the West will have 6 Teams.
Eventhough they are no teams in the Southwest USA, it's still importanat to follow the league as a growing number of players are getting chances to play in the USHL to eventually move on to the NCAA & The Professional Ranks in the future. They were several Texas Based Players that were chosen in the USHL Entry & Futures Draft.
Two of the most notables include G Christian Frey who was selected by the Des Moines Buccaneers and Michael Hill who played for the Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL) was selected in the 1st Round by the Waterloo Blackhawks. Also for the future, Cole Martin who currently plays for Team Illinois in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League was selected in the Futures Draft by the Lincoln Stars.
In the East, it will be the 2 Michigan Teams with the USNTDP & Muskegon Lumberjacks coming into the league as they will be joined by the Chicago Steel, Youngstown Phantoms and the Indiana Ice who were the 2009 USHL Clark Cup Champions.
The Central Division will intensive in the state of Iowa as 4 of the 5 Iowa teams are being bunched up as Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Des Moines and Waterloo will be bunched up along with the defending Champion Green Bay Gamblers in the Central Division.
Finally out West will have 6 teams as the 3 Nebraska Teams in Omaha, Lincoln and Tri-City will be joining the Sioux City Musketeers, Sioux Falls Stampede and the Fargo Force who have been the West Division Champions the last 2 years will be battaling out West.
Things like the Playoff Format and the schedule are still yet TBD. Look for those later in the summer with a 60 game schedule being intact.
My Playoff Format Idea: I would keep the 8 Team Format with an open ended Bracket as the teams would be ranked 1-8. The Division Champions would be ranked 1-3 with the other 5 teams being ranked 4-8. This is basically a 3 Round Playoff Format with the Playoff Series' being extended form Best-of-5 to a Best-of-7.
The USHL is getting to the point where they are getting a lot stronger from a high % of players going to the NCAA to more-and-more players getting noticed by the NHL. Like C.J. Ludwig who was invited to the Dallas Stars Prospects Camp as an undrafted Free Agent.
Here's the Division Alignment
Cedar Rapids Roughriders
Des Moines Buccaneers
Dubuque Fighting Saints
Green Bay Gamblers
Sioux City Musketeers
Sioux Falls Stampede
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