ROLLERCOASTER RIDE...When it comes to games between the Dubuque Fighting Saints and the Green Bay Gamblers, expect one-goal games. The three games up to this point this season have been. Three of the four games in the Eastern Conference Semifinal were. The Saints have proven better in one-goal games this season (6-2-2) as opposed to Green Bay (4-3-1).
TAKE THE MITTEL ROAD...A challenging part to the season continues tonight for the Gamblers, as they will be without star forward Casey Mittelstadt for the foreseeable future. Since his return to Eden Prairie, the Gamblers are 2-2-1 since his departure, and have scored five goals total in the last three games. Green Bay will need to lean on forwards Chris Grando (5 goals), John Leonard (7 goals) and Jared Spooner (6 goals) to take up the torch offensively.
HOME SWEET HOME?...The Resch Center has been known as a place that is hard to play in on a yearly basis. Look no further than Green Bay's 23-5-2 record and +47 goal differential. This season though, they are 5-3-0 with a +1 goal differential. The Saints took the first game at the Resch Center this season by a 1-0 score a few weeks ago.
SAINTS RISING...From 3-4-0 in mid-October to 12-6-2 at the beginning of December, the Fighting Saints have rocketed up the standings in meteoric fashion. They enter tonight in a tie for second place in the eastern conference. The Saints currently sit middle of the pack in both goals for (12th) and goals against (7th), but this streak has been especially helpful. They have averaged 3.5 goals per game in the past seven games, in contrast to 2 goals against per game (6-0-1 in that span).
LOOKING FOR AN ANSWER...Time in Green Bay's net has been halfway split between import goaltenders David Hrenak and Maksim Zhukov. The Russian goaltender Zhukov saw time in two of the prior three games against the Saints, but was pulled in his most recent effort. Hrenak has been significantly better statistically against Dubuque (25-of-26, .961 save percentage) than Zhukov (36-of-41, .878 save percentage).
REINFORCEMENTS ON THE WAY?...Last Saturday in Chicago, the Fighting Saints were shorthanded by two players due to a rash of injuries, and they still won. Tonight, defenseman Casey Staum and forward David Brumm could find their way back into the lineup for tonight's game after missing time with upper body injuries.
POWER SURGE...Green Bay's power play has been a massive asset to their offense. At 26.8%, they are far-and-away the best team in the league in that respect. However, since Mittelstadt's departure, the team has gone 1-for-11 in five games, a conversion rate of 9%. They will stack up against the league's second-best PK unit in Dubuque, which has stood pat at 91.9%, one of three teams in the USHL above 90%.
NO END IN SIGHT...It took a little time, but Zach Solow's point streak remains alive. During his 11-game point streak, the Fighting Saints are 7-2-2. What has been most marvelous is his consistency, as he has tallied at least one point in 16 of 20 games this season. The Floridian forward is tied for fourth in league scoring, and is four points away from matching last season's total of 25.