After just under two weeks off, the Fighting Saints will be back in action three times to round out the 2019 portion of their schedule. Dubuque, who currently sit at 18-3-1, will visit Cedar Rapids for two games before returning home on Sunday December 29th to take on the NTDP U17’s. Despite the top winning percentage in the league, Dubuque sits third in the Eastern Conference thanks to similarly hot starts from the Chicago Steel and Team USA. Dubuque rolls in to the three-game weekend winners of five in a row while Cedar Rapids has lost seven straight. Team USA remains the hottest team in the league, having won 10 straight.
-By the numbers, the first 22 games of the season for Dubuque were as good as it gets. They placed themselves in the same breath as some of the best teams in USHL history. With the eye test, the team hasn’t always been flashy, but they have won more often than not. However, during their current five game winning streak they have flexed their muscles a bit. They are outscoring their opponents 21-9.
-While the offense has been off and on, the defense hasn’t wavered yet this season. Dubuque has given up a league low 45 goals, which translates to 2.04 goals allowed per game. Waterloo is the only other team who has given up fewer than 60 goals (54) and their goals allowed per is 2.25.
-Erik Portillo kicks off the World Juniors today with a matchup against former Saint Matias Maccelli and Finland. Portillo will miss the first five games after break, meaning Aidan McCarthy will continue his starter roll and Hobie Hedquist should see at least one game of action.
-After a schedule that featured more Western Conference matchups than Eastern foes to start the season, Dubuque will fall back into a more normal conference schedule the next month. Five of their next seven games will be against in conference teams.
-Balanced scoring has led the way this season for Dubuque, but the top guns haven’t taken many games off. Ty and Dylan Jackson lead the team in offense as Ty has the most points (27) while Dylan sits one behind. Riese Gaber paces the team with 15 points and Braden Doyle has been red hot with points in five straight and 17 in total from the blue line.
-Dubuque ranks second in the USHL with a plus-33 goal differential. Only the high-powered Chicago Steel have a better ratio at plus-41
-Special teams have also been key for Dubuque and they are solid on both sides. Their power play ranks second in the league at 25.8% while their penalty kill ranks sixth at 83.6%. The Saints have been in or around the top five in both of those categories most of the season.
-The RoughRiders have had a rough go of things recently, dropping seven straight games. They now sit in sixth in the East with a 10-13-1 record after being as high as third not too long ago. CR was 10-6-1 after the first two weeks in November and haven’t won since.
-Despite losing the last three at home, Cedar Rapids will be happy to return there for the two games against Dubuque. The Riders are 7-4-1 at home and just 3-9 away from the Stable.
-The offense, after a strong start, has really struggled for CR. The RoughRiders have scored eight times in the last seven games and have been shut out three times.
-One bright spot for CR has been the play of forward Nikolai Mayorov who leads the team in scoring despite playing in just 18 games. He has 17 points this season and is the only RoughRider in double digits for goals.
-The combo of the U-18’s and U-17’s have been dynamite this season and have led Team USA to the second slot in the East. They have rattled off 10 straight wins which is the longest winning streak in the league this season.
-The U-17 squad has been dynamic, which usually indicates a balanced Team USA overall as the U-18’s consistently play at a high level. The U-17’s are one of just of just four teams to beat Dubuque this season, winning 5-4 in overtime.
-Jack Devine is the lone player on the U-17’s who has over a point per game in USHL play. In 13 games, Devine has 14 points for the younger squad. He had just one point against the Saints in their game earlier this season.
-Team USA has struggled away from home this season, at least in comparison to their home record. They are 8-5 on the road with a plus-1 goal differential.