The Dubuque Fighting Saints kick off the New Year with a familiar opponent in the Waterloo Black Hawks. The two teams will meet twice this weekend and four times in the first three weeks of the 2020 portion of the season. Dubuque and Waterloo have split the first two games of their season series, with Waterloo winning in Dubuque 3-2 and the Saints dominating in Waterloo, 7-1. Get set for a huge weekend of hockey with this weekend primer.
-Waterloo’s week of hockey has already begun, even if they haven’t yet played a game in the new year. The Black Hawks downed the Madison Capitols on Tuesday night by a score of 7-3. Connor Caponi and Joey Cassetti each had two goals. Cassetti has rejoined Waterloo from the college ranks.
-With Dubuque’s mishaps over the weekend, the Black Hawks are now statistically the best team in terms of defense in the USHL. They have allowed 62 goals in 27 games (2.29 per) while Dubuque has allowed 60 in 25 games (2.4 per).
-The matchup will feature two teams in the top five of the league in both power play and penalty kill. The Fighting Saints rank 2nd in power play percentage (23.4%) and 5th on the PK (84%). On the flip side, Waterloo is 5th on the power play (20.4%) and they are first on the PK (92.2%).
-Both teams have been incredibly good in general, but Waterloo is a slightly better home team while Dubuque is a slightly better road team. The difference is miniscule, but the Saints have a .750 winning percentage at home vs. an .808 on the road while Waterloo has a .750 winning percentage on the road as compared to a league best .846 winning percentage at home.
-In 13 games at the Young Arena, Waterloo has given up an average of 2.23 goals per game. If you take out the game against Dubuque, the Hawks have let up just 1.83 goals per at home. Their other home loss was coming 5-3 at the hands of the Lincoln Stars. Waterloo has three shutouts at home and a league best five overall.
-Perhaps no forward has been hotter over the last 10+ games than Xander Lamppa of the Black Hawks. The forward just had a 10-game point streak snapped in the game against Madison. However, in that 10-game streak, Lamppa produced 18 points. He is the team leader with 30 this season.
-Dubuque is led by the Jackson twins, as Ty has 32 points and Dylan has 30. However, Riese Gaber has really turned things up the last few weeks. Gaber leads the USHL in goals with 16 and has 11 in his last 13 games. He also has points in 11 of his last 13, including seven during his current four-game point streak.
-The meetings this weekend will only intensify what should be another great series during the middle of the month. Dubuque and Waterloo will square off for two more games on January 17th and 18th, both of those coming at the Mystique Ice Center.