The 2020-21 hockey season was a turbulent one because of the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several players in the USA's only Tier 1 junior league were able to make the most of the challenge to raise their profiles.
The USHL regular campaign started a month later than normal with the goal of a 54-game, intra-conference schedule that ran through late April. Only four teams from each conference, down from a normal six, qualified for the 2021 USHL playoffs. The first two rounds consisted of a best-of-three series, with only the Clark Cup final being a best-of-five.
The Chicago Steel won the Anderson Cup after posting the league’s top regular-season record. They defeated the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Muskegon Lumberjacks in the Eastern Conference with four consecutive wins. The Fargo Force, the lowest playoff seed knocked off regular-season conference champion Tri-City Storm in a three-game upset. They swept the Sioux City Musketeers in round 2, but fell to the Steel in four games in the championship round.
The following list of players are 2001 and '02 birth-year forwards from the region who made a positive impression with their play in the USHL. Some will move on to the NCAA this season and several will be back in junior for one more year.