After moving up in to second place in the Eastern Conference, the Dubuque Fighting Saints will try and hold serve on home ice as they battle with the Des Moines Buccaneers and Madison Capitols on Friday and Saturday. The Saints are two points up on Team USA with five games in hand and currently eight points back of Chicago with one point in hand. Dubuque’s next four games are solid opportunities for the team to move higher in the standings as they don’t take on a team ranked higher than sixth in either division.
-For the first time all season, Dubuque is ranked in the top five in both power play percentage and penalty kill percentage. The Saints power play has been explosive all season long and they rank 2nd at 23.6% a man up. A man down they have continued to roll and now rank fourth at 85.8%. They are 90% since the winter break and 21 for their last 22.
-Ty Jackson is currently on a five-game point streak and with five points over the weekend, now sits tied for first in the USHL with 42 points. Jackson has already surpassed his point total from last season (40) and is on pace to eclipse the 70-point mark. His brother, Dylan, is on a similar pace and sits eighth in the USHL with 38 points this year. Last season Dylan had 44 points.
-Riese Gaber grabbed his 21st goal of the season last weekend and now has 43 in his career. With one more goal, Gaber will hop in to the top-five all-time in terms of goals from Fighting Saints in the Tier-1 era.
-Erik Portillo saw action in all three games over the weekend, winning two and stopping 13 of 14 shots in a relief effort Saturday. He ranks second in goals against (2.07), second in save percentage (.919) and second in wins (15) this season in the USHL.
-The Saints are 11-5 overall on home ice and an impressive 7-3 in their last 10 games. Their 2.3 goals allowed per game on home ice are a league best. Dubuque still leads the league in goals allowed per game at 2.45.
-The Des Moines Buccaneers haven’t slipped too far in the standings, but they haven’t gained any ground over the last few months. The Bucs sit fifth in the West and are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
-Des Moines’ issues have largely stemmed from the defensive side of things. They rank seventh in the West in terms of goals allowed with 124 and are just one of three teams in the conference with a negative goal differential.
-On the flip side, the Bucs offense has continued to be a bright spot for the team. Alex Lafferiere, Joey Strada and Mason Nevers have all cracked the 30-point mark. Strada leads the team in goals (19), Lafferiere has the team lead in assists (18) and Nevers in points (32).
-This season the Bucs are 0-3 against the Fighting Saints. However, two of the three games have been decided after regulation with the Saints winning 5-4 in a shootout and 3-2 in overtime. The other game was a 4-1 victory for Dubuque.
-The Madison Capitols haven’t found their way out of the basement this season and don’t seem to be poised to. They have 17 points, which is 15 fewer than the next closest team. The Capitols are on a six-game losing streak heading into the weekend.
-Despite that, Dubuque and Madison have played two one goal games this season, with Dubuque winning both. The Saints and Capitols have played to a one-goal finish over 60% of the time in their all-time series.
-Carson Bantle has continued his fantastic season for Madison. He is 11th in the league with 36 points and by far the leader on the Caps. Bantle is top-10 in assists with 23
-The Capitols struggles can’t be boiled down to just one issue, but there is one glaring weakness that has caused multiple losses for them this season. The Capitols are a league worst -33 in terms of third-period goal differential. Youngstown is the next, with a -19 differential.