The Dubuque Fighting Saints will open their home schedule on Saturday night as they take on the Madison Capitols in both team’s only game of the weekend. Dubuque won both of their games during the Fall Classic, while Madison played three games during the opening weekend and went 1-2. The two teams have already squared off this season, with Dubuque persevering 4-3. The 7:05 puck drop on Saturday will be the second of five meetings this year between the two.
-Right off the bat, Dubuque has proven what many thought would be possible with the team. They have shown offensive creativity and depth from all lines. Dubuque has relied on their top scoring but have also seen solid production and chances from the bottom six and defense thus far.
-Riese Gaber leads the team with three goals after two games and is tied with Mark Cheremeta for the team lead in points with four. The Jackson twins both have three points as Dylan has two goals and all three of Ty’s points are assists. Dubuque’s “top lines” both look unstoppable at times during week one.
-The Fighting Saints split time among the netminders as both Erik Portillo and Aidan McCarthy started over the weekend. Portillo stopped 22 of 23 shots in his first USHL win. McCarthy also looked solid, stopping 27 of 30 against Madison. The Capitols will likely get Portillo, who will be the team’s number one, on Saturday.
-Madison was one of two teams to play three games over the first weekend as the Capitols visited Youngstown for the Phantoms home opener last Saturday. Madison, after losing their two Fall Classic games, won a thriller over the Phantoms in overtime. The 6-5 win for Madison marked just the third time since the start of last season that Madison tallied at least six goals.
-Carson Bantle was instrumental in the Capitols first weekend offensive outburst. The Capitols forward scored in each of the three games and put up six points in the first three games of the season. Bantle is already over a quarter of the way to his point total from last season. He had 20 points in 62 games with the Capitols.
-Last season, Madison was the bottom dweller in the East. A main reason for that was a lack of offense for the Capitols. Despite the six-goal game, Madison only scored four goals total in their first two games. It is still too early to figure out which performance is closer to the norm for Madison this season, but the Capitols will have to prove they can consistently score if they want to make the playoffs.
-Dubuque is 6-3 in their home openers since returning to the banks of the Mississippi. However, the Fighting Saints have lost their last two home openers. The Saints put up their first losing record at home in nine seasons back last year and will look to rebound and start strong at home this year.
-Madison was unable to create and hold momentum last season. That showed through the fact they only won two games in a row once. The Capitols beat Youngstown last Saturday and will look for back to back wins for just the second time since 2017.
-Dubuque played without Robert Cronin and Aidan Fulp during the Fall Classic as both players were hampered with lingering preseason injuries. Dubuque will be unsure until Saturday after morning skate as to what the status of each will be, but the team’s depth will only increase if one or both are in the lineup.
-Dubuque has only started a season 3-0 three previous times since the Tier-1 era started in the USHL. Dubuque started the 15-16, 13-14 and 12-13 seasons with three wins in their first three games. Dubuque’s longest winning streak to begin a season will be tough to catch as they rattled off nine straight to begin 2012-13.
-Though it is a new season, it is to be noted that since 2014-15 when Madison entered the league, the Capitols and Fighting Saints have played 19 one goal games out of 31 total.