MUST-WIN...The only way to move on to the Clark Cup Final is to win. The Fighting Saints will need to shake off the sting of the second furious Chicago Steel comeback in the series and take control of home ice one more time, and force a decisive Game 5, which would be played on Tuesday at Fox Valley Ice Arena. If the series were to be sent to that point, it would be the second consecutive series to hit five games for the Steel.
KUDDY GLOVES ARE OFF...The Fighting Saints’ X-factor has been none other than Arizona Coyotes prospect and Arizona State University commit Patrick Kudla, who has five points in the series against the Chicago Steel in three games. During the regular season, Kudla posted five points against the Steel in four games. Both of his goals in the series have come on the power play—the only two goals the Steel have surrendered on the power play.
THIRD PERIOD MASTERY...The Steel’s ability to rise out of seemingly nowhere continued on Friday night, and has been illustrated statistically throughout the postseason. The Steel have scored 13 of 24 goals in the third period, and just 3 of those 24 in the first period. The Fighting Saints will have to stem this tide, as they have allowed 7 goals against in the third, and scored just 3.
STRIKE FIRST: WIN...Both teams have a strange distinction here in the playoffs so far. The team who strikes first, wins. The Chicago Steel are 5-0-0 when that happens, and the Fighting Saints are 4-0-0. It served both teams well during the regular season, as the Steel won 28 out of 36 games when scoring the game’s first goal, and the Saints took 28 of 39 games when striking first.
TOP LINE REVIVED...It was a welcome sight to see Zach Solow and Colin Theisen return to the scoresheet. Solow was a huge part of the offense a night ago with a goal and an assist. Theisen hit the goal column for the first time since Game 1, a streak of five games without a tally. One of the league’s best goal scorers has not been without has chances, as he has generated 25 shots on goal in 7 games, an average of over three per game.
TIDE STEMMED...The Dubuque Fighting Saints were built on resiliency and consistency. The Fighting Saints have not lost consecutive games since March 25 and 26, and only accomplished that feat five times throughout the regular season. Both teams split on home ice during the regular season, and the Steel split at home in this series. Does that trend continue tonight?
ELIMINATE THE THREAT...Some key contributors have risen to the occasion on the Chicago Steel that need some extra defensive attention. Brannon McManus, who hadn’t scored in the first round series against the Youngstown Phantoms, has three goals in this one, including two game-winning goals. Steel captain Marc Johnstone has a goal and two assists in the series, and points in all but one playoff game. Jake Jaremko has solidified the Steel’s top six with two multi-point efforts in the series—not coincidentally, both parts of the crucial comebacks in Games 1 and 3. The defense will need to be extra attentive to these players tonight.