1. Dubuque (41-10-7, 89 points, 1st in East): The gap between the Fighting Saints and Sioux Falls is closer than seemed possible a month ago. Dubuque lost five of six — but four of those came in shootouts — before winning its past four games. A potential Clark Cup final preview is on tap April 6 when Dubuque visits Sioux Falls.
2. Sioux Falls (42-14-2, 86 points, 1st in West): The Stampede are rolling, having won seven straight and 13 of 15. Five of their final six games are at home — two against Omaha. The first one is Friday and the last is the final game of the regular season on April 13.
3. Green Bay (34-19-4,72 points, 2nd in East): The Gamblers are staying ahead of Muskegon in the standings but still have three games in hand to build a cushion for hosting a first-round playoff series. Green Bay has two players among the league’s top 10 scorers — Kyle Novak (fourth with 70 points) and Nicholas Schilkey (10th, 59 points).
4. Fargo (35-16-7, 77 points, 2nd in West): The Force would have to go into a long losing streak to miss the Western Conference playoffs. Fargo is six points ahead of third-place Lincoln. Forward Dominic Toninato has moved to a tie for sixth in the league in scoring with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) and Brendan Harms is eighth with 62 (23, 39).
5. Waterloo (31-21-4, 66 points, 4th in West): Only Chicago has played fewer games than the Black Hawks, but that changes Friday. That’s when Waterloo kicks off a stretch of six games in 10 days. Four of those are at home, with road games at Green Bay and Dubuque. Taylor Cammarata and Justin Kloos are 1-2 in scoring with 78 and 75 points, respectively.
6. Lincoln (34-21-3, 71 points, 3rd in West): The Stars picked up two big points Saturday by snapping a six-game skid to Omaha. Lincoln showed better discipline in that win, being whistled for a half dozen two-minute penalties. The Stars lead the league in penalty minutes with 1,473 — that’s 258 more than second-place Sioux City.
7. Youngstown (33-23-0, 66 points, 4th in East): The Phantoms have all but locked up a playoff berth in the East by going 5-2 the past two weeks. Youngstown now has played the same number of games as Chicago and leads the Steel by 16 points. Now the Phantoms can set their sights on trying to catch Green Bay (72) and Muskegon (70).
8. Omaha (32-25-1, 65 points, 5th in West): The Lancers have to watch the standings and hope for some help to crack the top four in the West and make the playoffs. Only Chicago and Team USA have scored fewer goals than Omaha’s 162. That puts the Lancers at 14th place in the 16-team league.
9. Muskegon (30-19-10, 70 points, 3rd in East): Those 10 points the Lumberjacks earned from overtime and shootout losses are the difference between being in third place and in the playoffs and being on the outside looking at fifth place. Goalie Kevin Lindskoug moved into first in save percentage (.927) while staying second in goals allowed (2.41).
10. Tri-City (22-29-7, 51 points, 6th in West): If the playoffs still featured six teams (like they might again next year), the Storm would be mentioned as one of those teams that higher seeds wouldn’t want to play. Trevor Moore is still among the league leaders in scoring, tied for 11th with 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists).
11. Chicago (23-29-4, 50 points, 5th in East): If the Steel can pick up the pace on defense there’s still a slim chance to sneak into the playoffs, though Sunday’s loss to Indiana didn’t help. Jacob Slavin is one of the USHL’s top scoring defensemen. He’s tied for 13th at his position with 27 points on five goals and 22 assists.
12. Cedar Rapids (21-29-7, 49 points, 6th in East): The RoughRiders continue to struggle on the road. Already the owner of the longest road skid this season, Cedar Rapids also has the longest current skid at three. One strong point has been the solid play of Michael Rotolo in goal with a 2.80 goals-against average, eighth best in the league.
13. Sioux City (19-28-11, 49 points, 8th in West): The Musketeers are positioning themselves nicely for a strong run next season, having traded several top players for extra picks in the upcoming drafts. Goalie Connor Girard is third in the league in goals surrendered per game at 2.42 with a .906 save percentage that ranks ninth.
14. Des Moines (23-32-3, 49 points, 7th in West): It’s been a tough season for the Buccaneers, who had lost 10 of 12 before dealing a severe blow to Omaha’s playoff hopes Sunday. On offense, Des Moines has three players with more than 30 points. On defense, no one in the West has given up more goals than the Bucs (216).
15. Team USA (19-32-5, 43 points, 8th in East): Ex-Lancers goalie Thatcher Demko continues to shine for the Under-17 team. He improved to 13-3-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average in 17 appearances by stopping 17 of 19 Youngstown shots in Sunday’s 4-2 win against the Phantoms. Demko also has a save percentage of .902.
16. Indiana (20-32-5, 45 points, 7th in East): Other than the 38 points scored by forward Mikhail Plotnikov, no Ice player has scored more than 22 points this season. Indiana’s defense has faced similar struggles to those of Des Moines, giving up 214 goals in 56 games. The Ice also are 8-14-3 in road games.