NOTABLE ABSENCES...Both sides will be without notable players in this game. Namely, for the Fighting Saints, forward Zach Solow and associate head coach J.B. Bittner are representing the United States at the World Junior A Challenge. Lincoln will be without head coach Chris Hartsburg, goaltender Cayden Primeau and forwards Ethen Frank and Luka Maver due to the tournament as well.
A WILD RUN...Dubuque’s current run is one of the best in the entire USHL, short of Sioux City’s 11-game winning streak. They are winners of five games in a row, and eight of the last nine. Heading into the weekend, the Fighting Saints are within four points’ striking distance of the Chicago Steel. During this run, the Saints have outscored opponents 34-17.
STARRY-EYED SURPRISE...Last season, the Lincoln Stars outscored the Dubuque Fighting Saints 9-3 in the two-game season series, and with the heavy style that they play, 70 penalty minutes were handed out in total. Fortunately for the Saints, Lincoln’s roster has gone through a complete overhaul as well, which could potentially lead to a different result.
THE CAPTAINS EMERGE...Tonight marks the first night of Dallas Gerads’ captaincy. He will be joined by veteran players Colin Theisen and Taylor Brierley as permanent alternate captains, in addition to Jeff Baum and Cole Guttman as rotating alternate captains. Gerads is on a great personal run, missing front tooth aside, with points in five consecutive games, and one multi-point effort in that span.
A BOWL OF GOALS, PLEASE...Lincoln’s most prolific goal scorer is Harvard commit Henry Bowlby, who is back in his second tour with the Stars. He is one goal away from doubling his total from last season, and two points away from matching his point total from a season ago. Of his nine goals on the season, two have come in the last four games.
HOLDENER HEATS UP...Makai Holdener, the Saints’ Swiss forward has run rampant on the USHL since coming over to the team in early November. He has only played in six games, but he has points in four of those six games, including a multi-point effort last Saturday against Green Bay. Signs of this could be seen as far back as last season when he played for Sweden’s top junior league as a point-per-game player.
PUNCHLESS PLAY...Much like Madison’s, or Tri-City’s, home power play from a season ago, the Lincoln Stars have struggled to a massive degree when on the power play at home. They have capitalized on 2 of 38 chances (5.3%), just barely above Waterloo’s 1-for-32 mark (3.1%) for the lowest spot in the league. Dubuque’s road power play, however, has been on fire, at 11-for-49 (22.4%), which ranks second-best.
SENSATIONAL SHORTHANDED...The Fighting Saints don’t only possess the one of the league’s best penalty kills (89.7%), but they are also the league-leader in shorthanded goals (5). Only one of those goals, however, has come on the road this season.