COLLIN MY NUMBER...North Dakota commit and New York Islanders prospect Collin Adams is the player to watch tonight. He completed a 61-point campaign a season ago on the wing of the league’s top scorer Rem Pitlick, and has replicated that kind of production without him. So far, he has 13 points in 12 games, and 3 goals in his last 5 games of action.
COLE-Y COW...On the flip side for the Fighting Saints, no player is paving the way for a successful season more than forward Cole Guttman. He dominated the Youngstown Phantoms in his return from illness with four points, and then assisted on the game-tying goal on Saturday vs. Waterloo. He showed a propensity for shooting the puck, tallying 11 shots on goal in the two games last weekend.
FATIGUE FACTOR...This will be a challenging weekend for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. After playing a game at 10:30 in the morning yesterday, they play against the Saints tonight, and again tomorrow. This weekend presents an AHL-style challenge of three games in three nights on the weekend. They have built a cushion on the weekend by going 7-3-0 in the last ten games.
CLOSE THE GAP...This weekend is huge, even if it is just one-sixth of the way through the season. The Fighting Saints sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, and Muskegon third. Youngstown separates the two teams at 14 points. With two regulation wins this weekend, the Fighting Saints can claw within a mere point of the Jacks. However, on the flip side, with two regulation losses, they could find themselves nine points back.
GERADS EXCUSED...A game changer, no doubt, Dallas Gerads will sit out tonight’s game due to a suspension, a slew foot, received after last Saturday’s game with Waterloo. The Saints will be without a top scorer who had scored six of his seven points on the season in the last six games of action. Next man up, as the Saints feature a bevy of balanced scoring on all four lines.
THE NEXT GENERATION...Muskegon hosts a few powerhouse names on staff. John Vanbiesbrouck, a goalie with 882 NHL games’ experience, serves as the general manager of the Jacks, while the brother of Hall-of-Famer Pat LaFontaine, John, serves as the head coach of the team in his first season. Last season with Wichita Falls of the North American Hockey League, he led the team to a first-place finish, and a Robertson Cup Final berth.
ONLY GETTING BETTER...Usually teams in the top one-third of the league in special teams succeed throughout the entire season. The Dubuque Fighting Saints have themselves in a great position as the fifth-best in power play (9-of-48) and penalty kill (45-of-50). They entered this stretch of six consecutive games with a power play with only one goal on the man advantage prior to the streak’s start.
ROAD WARRIORS...Muskegon is a special team on the road in the early going, netting the second-most road wins in the league (5). They own a +11 road goal differential, which is tied for the top mark in the entire league with the Waterloo Black Hawks, who are one win better on the road so far.