PRO-STYLE SCHEDULE...Tonight closes out an ECHL-style schedule quirk in which the Dubuque Fighting Saints will play three games in three nights. Thankfully, both games have gone the Saints’ way. They have outscored their opponents 8-3 in the two games, but most concerning might be the fatigue factor of the defensive strain, as they have allowed 73 total shots on goal against in the two games.
A MOMENTOUS WIN...Cedar Rapids picked up a big win a night ago on home ice over the Madison Capitols. After an icing late in the game, Liam Walsh broke a 2-2 tie with 90 seconds left to lift the Riders to the win. CR now has half of its wins in the entire season in the last ten games overall. Two-thirds of their overall wins have been on home ice, so the road remains an obstacle.
NOT CLOSE SO FAR...The Saints and Riders have matched up four times this season, and the rate of which the Saints have scored against the Riders has been exceptional. The Saints have outscored CR 20-3 in the four games so far this season, with the top line doing most of the ridiculous damage. Zach Solow, Colin Theisen and Cole Guttman have accounted for 11 goals and 9 assists.
SPECIAL TEAMS MISMATCH...Tonight features one of the best teams on the power play and penalty kill against the worst. In fact, the Dubuque Fighting Saints’ season high in power play goals in one game was against Cedar Rapids on December 30, when they scored five in eight opportunities. The power play is 3-for-5 during this two-game stretch this weekend.
AT THE SUMMIT...One could consider the Dubuque Fighting Saints where they’ve wanted to be since the start—tops in the USHL. However, there is work yet to be done. The Chicago Steel trail the Saints by just a point, with a game in hand, and it will now be up to the Saints to continue their winning ways. They have wins in 10 of the last 12 games, with points in 11 of them.
RIDE DeRIDDER...CR’s best chance to pick up wins has been with 16-year-old goaltender Drew DeRidder in net. While he has had very limited success against Dubuque (7.50 GAA, .762 sv%), he was stellar in the Riders’ last two wins. He stopped a total of 53 of 58 chances fired his way (.920 sv%), allowing just five goals in the two wins. He is 3-2-0 in his last three starts, gaining some consistency along the way.
KUDLA CARRIES THE MAIL...Known as an offensive defenseman heading into training camp, Arizona Coyotes prospect Patrick Kudla continues to round out his complete game. Lately, however, the Canadian defenseman has been a real threat, especially offensively, for Dubuque. He ranks third in overall defensive scoring with 25 points, and trails Green Bay’s Connor Mackey by 6 points for the overall lead. He now has a four-game point streak with points in 7 of his last 8 games. Most importantly, Kudla has done a lot of his damage at even strength, as just 10 of his 25 points this season (40%) have come on the power play. His pedigree behooves him, as he led the USHL in preseason scoring overall, and the OJHL’s leader in defensive scoring (66 points).