The Dubuque Fighting Saints will travel to Kearney, Nebraska this weekend as they take on the Tri-City Storm for the first time during the 2019-20 season. Dubuque will clash with the defending Anderson Cup champions, looking to remain undefeated on the early season. Right now, the Fighting Saints are one of four undefeated teams left as Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Chicago also enter week three without a blemish in their loss column. This will mark the second of three weekends during the month of October in which the Fighting Saints play just once.
-On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Tri-City plays three times this weekend. They played last night at home, beating Sioux Falls 4-1 for their first win of the season. Saturday they will travel to Waterloo to take on the Black Hawks before returning home to host the Saints Sunday afternoon.
-Dubuque has yet to lose a competitive game in 2019-20 as they motored through the preseason 4-0 before starting the regular season off with a similarly strong start. The Fighting Saints have leaned on their offense, but their defense has been strong to start as well with just six goals allowed in the first three games.
-Erik Portillo, the Buffalo Sabres draft pick, has been a main reason for the early season success. He has stopped 43 of 46 shots on goal and currently has a 1.50 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.
-The line of Matthew Kopperud, Mark Cheremeta and Riese Gaber have cemented themselves as the top line for the Saints early this season, combining for 14 points in three games. Cheremeta leads the team with six points while Gaber and Kopperud have each produced four.
-For Tri-City, entering the week their top two scorers each have three points. Colby Ambrosio and Joseph Molenaar, both returners, have paced the scoring for Tri-City. The Storm have struggled out of the gate, but still possess a strong group of talented players.
-The Storm seem to be missing their dynamic defensive scoring that was commonplace last year. Ronnie Attard and Zac Jones, who both had 45 points-plus last season, are no longer with the team. Mitchell Miller had two points through the first three games as the former Cedar Rapids RoughRider adds some experience to the blue line.
-Though Tri-City swept the Fighting Saints in the season series last year, usually the Fighting Saints are the team on top. Dubuque swept the season series four straight seasons after returning to the league in 2010-11. The four seasons before last, Dubuque and Tri-City have split the season series. Overall, Dubuque has a 12-6 record against the Storm.
-The Fighting Saints are off to a strong start on special teams, especially on the power play. The Saints top the league at 33.3% to begin the season. Tri-City, which had the top penalty kill in the league last season at 87.3%, currently sit 8th in the league.
-Tri-City lost three games in a row just once last season and it was towards the end of the year when the team already had their postseason seed locked up. The Storm last lost four in a row when they ended the 2017-18 season with nine straight loses.
-Dubuque and Tri-City will square off again during the month of November as the Storm visit Mystique Community Ice Center on November 15th. Dubuque will be in the midst of a six-game home stand when their next game against Tri-City rolls around.