TOUGH ROLL...The reigning Clark Cup champions have had a rough go of it lately, with wins in just two of the last ten games. They are without several key players like Alex Limoges, Paul Washe, and starting goaltender Dayton Rasmussen, who are all representing the U.S. at the World Junior A Challenge. Even in their current predicament, they are only seven points away from fourth-place Lincoln.
SAINTS FIRE AWAY...The days of scoring two goals per game are seemingly over. The Fighting Saints have now risen to 72 goals scored, which is the fourth-highest goal output in the entire USHL. No Saints player has scored more than ten goals, but as of right now, seven players are on pace to score more than 10 goals on the season. Colin Theisen is one goal away from 10.
THE REMATCH...The last time these two teams played was May 20, 2016—when the Clark Cup was awarded to the Storm. Only five players on the Saints today played in that series (Gerads, Solow, Guttman, Theisen, Castor), and a handful of players on the Storm participated as well. The Clark Cup Final MVP, Wade Allison, is currently tearing it up at Western Michigan (14 points in 16 games).
ON THE CASE...Saints defenseman and Montreal Canadiens prospect Casey Staum has had an impressive month of December. He has scored half of his six points since December 3, and is a +2. Prior to his offensive outburst, Staum had not recorded a point in nine consecutive games. Over the last several games, Staum has played on the top defensive pair with Jeff Baum.
MIDWAY MESS...Tri-City’s best success comes in the first period. They outscore their opponents 27-17 in the first frame. When it comes to the second period, that’s when things become a bit more murky. Tri-City has a -10 goal differential in the second, and a -2 goal differential in the third period. The Saints are also good early, with a 28-17 split in the first period.
I’LL BE BACH...Tri-City’s biggest player to watch is Swedish forward Linus Weissbach. The first-year Storm player has points in four of his last five games. More of a playmaker than a scorer, Weissbach has 16 points this season—12 of them assists—and ranks third in team scoring. He did more of the same for Frölunda’s U20 team in the Swedish SuperElit junior league.
THE OVERTIME CONUNDRUM...Make no mistake—head coach Bill Muckalt has a Clark Cup to his résumé. It did, however, come in a strange way. The second-year bench boss has an overall record of 36-26-21. 17 of those overtime losses came last season, and assisted Tri-City’s rise to the top of the Western Conference.
HOME HAPPY...Defending home ice is the number one mission in any hockey team’s mind. Under head coach Jason Lammers, the team is 27-11-3, good for a .658 winning percentage. Only once in the team’s history have the Saints won fewer than 20 games at home in a season.