A CRITICAL SERIES...These two games could sort out a lot in the already-crowded Eastern Conference standings. Two points separate these two teams heading into tonight’s game, and the Fighting Saints have a game in hand as well. However, this series could swing the tide as to who has the second place spot, and if the Saints are to take the series, they could end up with a six-point advantage.
EN FUEGO...Goals are not hard to find for the Dubuque Fighting Saints lately. They have scored five or more goals in a game in five of the last seven games. At least one player on all four forward lines and all three defensive pairs factored into the scoring last weekend against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Waterloo Black Hawks, in which the Saints outscored them 12-3.
STIFLING DEFENSE...Youngstown is riding off of the coattails of not only a Monday win over Bloomington, but a close series split with the Western Conference’s leading team, the Sioux City Musketeers. The two teams split 2-1 overtime decisions. The two games were representative of Youngstown’s style, as they hold the mark for third-fewest goals allowed this season.
COALE vs. COLE...This game will feature two players with the relative same name, both on rather strong scoring tears. The Saints’ Cole Guttman has been one of the league’s leading scorers in the past month in the midst of a nine-game point scoring streak (9 goals, 5 assists). Youngstown’s Coale Norris is tied for 9th in league goal scoring, and, dating back to December 9, he has scored five of his 11 goals on the year.
RAISE THE SHIELDS...Youngstown’s penalty kill on the road is near-impregnable. They have allowed a stifling 3 power play goals against in 59 opportunities (94.9%). Their best test will come against the league’s best power play on home ice, right here in Dubuque, where the Saints have scored 13 times on 62 opportunities (21.0%). Additionally, the 59 times shorthanded is one of the lowest totals in the USHL on the road.
QUINN-PRESSIVE...The leading scorer in the league dating back just over a month ago is not Zach Solow, nor Cole Guttman, nor Jack Adams, or even Rem Pitlick. It’s Saints forward Quinn Preston, who has 15 of his 21 points on the season in the last ten games. It’s a far reach from the start of his season, where it took 11 games for Preston to score his first goal. Since November 5, it has been a torrid pace for the Saints’ forward.
ON THE PRECIPICE OF HISTORY...If Zach Solow scores a point tonight, he will have tied two USHL legends for the longest individual point streak in USHL Tier I history—21 games. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel (Sioux City) and former Minnesota Wild draft pick Mike Erickson (Des Moines) both accomplished the feat since the league moved to Tier I in 2002. The Northeastern commit will forever be marked in the record books, regardless, as the second-longest point streak in Tier I history with 20 games. During the streak that dates back to October 28, Solow has scored 6 goals and 26 assists, is a +12, and is the league’s leading scorer not only in that span, but also in the entire league as a whole, with a three-point cushion on Fargo’s Jack Adams.