Looking to continue their winning streak, the Fighting Saints will hit the road to take on the National Team Development Program U-17 squad in Plymouth, Michigan. Dubuque is fresh off a road sweep of Des Moines and Sioux City. The Fighting Saints sit tied with Waterloo for the best record in the league at 6-0. It is the third time the Saints have started a season at least 6-0 and the first time since 2013-14. Get set for the road matchup against the U-17’s with this edition of the pregame primer.
-Last season defense was an issue for the Dubuque Fighting Saints. The team was 10th in the league in terms of goals allowed and had the worst penalty kill by the end of the season. This year the opposite is true. Dubuque ranks third in the East and fifth overall with an 86.4% PK. In addition, the team trails only Waterloo in overall defense, allowing just 1.83 goals per game. Dubuque has relinquished 1,3,2,1,4,0 goals in their first six games.
-The offense that the team showed during the preseason hasn’t appeared quite yet during the regular season. Though they tallied five goals against Des Moines and four against Muskegon in the season opener, Dubuque is averaging just over three goals per game. While that number isn’t poor by any means, the team showed that they can still be a lot more potent on offense.
-This weekend might be an ideal time to showcase that as Dubuque is up against the worst defensive team in the league. While the stats are split between the U-18’s and the U-17’s, if you just single out the younger program, the defense simply isn’t there. The U-17’s have allowed 38 goals in six games, which is over six goals per game. They are 1-5 in USHL play.
-However, that one win came in the U-17’s most recent contest in the USHL and also against one of the stronger early-season teams. The U-17’s downed the Chicago Steel 5-4 in overtime on the road for their first USHL win of the season. Chicago is no slouch, at 5-2-1 through eight games.
-After graduating Jack Hughes from the NTDP last season, the program has brought in yet another Hughes with a boatload of talent. Luke Hughes, younger brother of Quinn and Jack, is off to a hot start with 11 points in 12 games. In the six USHL games, he has been a regular on the score sheet as well with five points including four goals to lead the team in USHL play.
-Justin Janicke has also started strong in the USHL with the same stat line as Hughes. His older brother, Trevor, was a member of the Central Illinois Flying Aces last season and now plays for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
-Any way you slice it, Dubuque’s stats look good to start the season. However, five of the six wins have one thing in common, three goals. Dubuque has allowed three goals or fewer in all but one game this season. Even heading back to the preseason, Dubuque has only allowed three goals in a game twice as they did once in their four preseason games as well.
-Over a third of the Fighting Saints offense this year has come on the power play. The unit is red hot, scoring in four straight games and five of six total. The Fighting Saints have the third fewest power play opportunities (19), the third most power play goals (7) and the highest power play percentage at 36.8%. Last year Dubuque also had a strong unit as they finished sixth in the league at 22%.
-Last season, the Fighting Saints squared off just once against the U-17’s, beating them 6-3 in Plymouth. That crop of players, now the U-18’s will only get one crack at Dubuque this season as well and that won’t occur until February.
-The quest for the final unbeaten mark in the USHL is on the line once again this weekend as Dubuque and Waterloo are vying for that last spot. Both teams are 6-0. Waterloo plays Green Bay and Des Moines to finish the month of October. Waterloo is off to their best start in Tier-1 history. Their previous best was 4-0 to start the season.