After nearly a month away from home, the Fighting Saints are back at the friendly confines of Mystique Ice Center for six straight games. Dubuque will kick off their longest home stand of the season with a Friday matchup against Omaha and a Saturday game against Cedar Rapids. The Saints had their six-game win streak snapped but still roll a seven-game point streak into the weekend. Get set for the two contests with this edition of the weekend primer:
-Dubuque and Waterloo have both started the season with seven game point streaks. Waterloo’s was also a seven-game win streak that was snapped the same night Dubuque lost to the NTDP U-17’s. The Fighting Saints have a chance to secure the best start to the USHL season with a win on Friday.
-After a quiet two game pointless streak, Riese Gaber was back to his regular ways with a goal and an assist last Saturday. Gaber assisted on Mark Cheremeta’s third goal of the season and scored the third goal of the game on a deflection off an Aidan Fulp shot.
-Saturday’s game was just the second time this season that Dubuque has allowed four or more goals in a game. It has happened now two of the last three games, with the Fighting Saints winning one and losing one in overtime. Dubuque is still second in the USHL with just 16 goals allowed on the season through seven games.
-While defense is paving the way for Dubuque, the offense has been no slouch. The Saints have five players with at least a point per game, paced by Ty Jackson who has 10 points in the team’s first seven. Gaber leads the way with five goals while Ty, Dylan Jackson and Cheremeta each have three.
-Possibly the biggest bright spot for the Saints this season has been the team’s power play. Dubuque sits at 36.4%, which is tops in the USHL. Not only has the unit been very good overall, but the timeliness of the goals has really been impressive. Dubuque has scored six of eight power play goals in the third period and two have been game tying goals while two have also been go ahead tallies.
-Dubuque stockpiled a bunch of points for a team that has only played one game this season at home. The Saints beat the Madison Capitols 3-2 on opening night for their only win and only game at Mystique Ice Center. The Saints finished under .500 at home last year and will be looking to rebound and generate momentum to begin the six-game homestand, which starts with Omaha.
-The Lancers have struggled to start the season, with a 3-5-2 record. Five of Omaha’s seven total losses have been one goal games. This suggest that the young Lancers aren’t far off from breaking out. They have a couple impressive wins including a 4-3 victory over Tri-City and a 6-5 win over Cedar Rapids which featured a furious comeback.
-Special teams have not been that for the Lancers to begin the season. They are 12th in the USHL at 10.8% on the power play and a man down they are even worse at 69.2% on the PK. That will need to change quickly against the top unit in the league in Dubuque.
-Unlike Dubuque, Omaha have struggled on the road this season. They have just one win in five attempts. The Lancers play four of the next five on the road.
-Alex Campbell has put on an offensive show for the Lancers through the first 10 games. The Nashville Predators draft pick (65th overall in 2019) has put up 12 points during the first 10 games, doubling the next highest total on the team. That total belongs to Christian Berger, who has chipped in six points from the blue line.
-Akira Schmid was not in net for Omaha last week as he was out with an injury. If he can’t go again it is a big blow for the Lancers. Scmid was a one-man show last season down the stretch and though his numbers don’t indicate it this season, he’s one of the best in the league. He finished 2018-19 with a 2.16 GAA and .926 save percentage.
-The RoughRiders have exploded out of the gates in terms of their offensive production. The team is second in the USHL with 47 goals scored through 10 games. The defense has been lackluster at best, but CR has shown they certainly have enough firepower to put up points against anyone in the league.
-A big reason for their heavy point totals has been the play of Ben Meehan. Meehan might not have had an abundance of hype surrounding him entering the season, but he has done more than enough to garner it now. With six goals and seven assists in the 10 games, Meehan not only leads Cedar Rapids and USHL defenseman in points, but he is also just two points shy of the league lead. Meehan already has a hat trick this season.
-The RoughRiders are very balanced on the special team side of things, with their strength slightly favoring the power play. CR is ranked 5th in the league on the PP and is ranked seventh on the penalty kill.
-Last season the series between Dubuque and CR was dominated by the RoughRiders. They took the season slate 6-3 and were 4-1 on Dubuque’s home ice.
-The goaltending situation will be one to watch with CR and it will be interesting who starts against Dubuque. Shamil Shmakov currently has better numbers, but Derek Mullahy has seen one more game of action between the pipes.