After closing out six-game homestand with two strong wins, the Dubuque Fighting Saints take their USHL best winning percentage on the road against the Waterloo Black Hawks and Des Moines Buccaneers this Friday and Saturday. Dubuque currently sits at 10-2-1 which is second in the Eastern Conference in terms of points. They will take on the top two teams in the West on their latest road trip.
-Dubuque finally broke through offensively, putting in five goals against the Lincoln Stars. It was just the second time this season that Dubuque totaled five goals in a game and really the first time five were actually scored (the Saints other game featured a shootout and the team was awarded the extra goal).
-Dubuque didn’t give up their defensive structure during their offensive outburst and over the weekend they showed once again why they are one of, if not the top defensive team in the league. Dubuque relinquished two goals over the weekend. They have allowed just 27 goals all season, which is the best mark in the league.
-Just under half of the games Dubuque has played this season have featured the opponent scoring one goal or none. Six of the team’s 13 games have followed that trend.
-Erik Portillo was named the USHL Goalie of the Week after his two victories over the weekend. The Saints netminder is tied at the top of the league with eight wins, he ranks second in GAA with a 2.17 goals against mark and he is 10th in save percentage at .907.
-Riese Gaber woke up in a big way for the Saints as he scored three goals, all in the third period or later during the two weekend games. Gaber scored the overtime winner, his third game winning goal of the season, on Friday. He then proceeded to ice the game with two third period goals on Saturday and now leads Dubuque with nine goals this season.
-Dylan and Ty Jackson continue to pace the Saints with their solid presence on offense. The twins had two goals and four assists over the weekend and continue to be the top two on the team in points. Dylan has 17 to lead all players and Ty is just one behind him with 16 points.
-Antonio Venuto continued his goal scoring efforts, with his fourth of the season coming against the Lincoln Stars on Saturday Venuto is tied with Gaber for the team lead in game winners as his tally stood up Saturday as the game winner.
-The 27 goals allowed through the first 13 games is the second-best mark Dubuque has had in the Tier-1 era. The only Dubuque team to post a better mark was the 2012-13 team which allowed 21 goals through 13 games.
-Not much has changed since the last time the Black Hawks and Saints met. The two remain towards the top of the league and both are still the top two defensive teams in the league as well. The only difference is Dubuque has not taken that mantle from Waterloo in the stats. Waterloo has allowed 34 goals in 15 games.
-Another similarity in this matchup is that it will once again feature the top power play (Dubuque) and the top penalty kill (Waterloo). Dubuque is over 30% on the power play while Waterloo is 95% on the penalty kill.
-Waterloo has yet to lose at home this season; they are a perfect 6-0. Dubuque is the only team who has yet to lose in regulation on the road, posting a 4-0-1 record. Dubuque struggled last season in Waterloo, getting outscored 13-2 in three games.
-Ryan Drkulec has been a point per game player for Waterloo in the last 10 games and has four points in the last four games heading into the game against Dubuque. Connor Caponi, who did not play against Dubuque last time out, scored twice against Omaha in two Waterloo wins this past weekend.
DES MOINES BUCCANEERS:
-The Des Moines Buccaneers made it through a brutal three in three stretch last weekend against the U-18’s, Muskegon and Youngstown with four of a possible six points. The Bucs have done nothing but get better since the last time they played Dubuque and lost 5-4 in a shootout.
-Des Moines has given up the second most goals in the West and third most in the league. However, they have countered that with the 60 goals scored: the best mark in the West and fourth best in the league.
-The defense has been better for Des Moines as they have allowed 13 goals in the last five games. That 2.6 per game average is well below their season average of 3.5.
-Des Moines ranks right behind Waterloo in terms of success on home ice. They have lost just twice, once in regulation and have a .786 winning percentage. Dubuque has handed the Bucs one of their two home loses but since then Des Moines is 3-0 at home outscoring opponents 13-7 in the process.
Puck drop for the contest against Waterloo will be at 7:05 and it is the Hockey TV free game of the weekend in the USHL. On Saturday the puck will drop an hour earlier at 6:05 in Des Moines.