It will be a matchup between the top two teams in the USHL this weekend when the Fighting Saints meet the Chicago Steel for the third and fourth times this season. The Saints are 0-2 this season against the Steel, but both losses have been in tight contests. Chicago won 2-0 at Fox Valley Ice Arena and then 4-3 in Dubuque. Erik Middendorf had the game winning goal in each of the games for the Steel.
-Dubuque will enter Friday’s contest holding a nine-game winning streak on home ice. During the Tier-1 era, Dubuque has only had two streaks longer than that. The longest home winning streak for Dubuque was from September 28th, 2012 through December 28th, 2012 when they won 15 straight.
-Speaking of streaks, the Chicago Steel have won 11 straight coming into the weekend series with Dubuque. Earlier this season, Chicago had a win streak of 13 games as well. The Steel are the first team in the Tier-1 era with multiple win streaks of 10 games or more.
-The dominance of both Dubuque and Chicago is prevalent in nearly every statistical category. Maybe nowhere more than at the top of the individual scoring charts. The Steel boast the top five scorers in the USHL, while Dubuque has players six, seven and eight.
-Despite the strong play of both teams, Chicago has cemented themselves as the clear number one in the league. The Steel are 14 points clear of Dubuque in the Eastern Conference. Though the Saints mathematically have a chance to catch them, Chicago hasn’t lost more than two games in a row this year and they have only done that twice.
-Heading into the weekend series, no two players are hotter than Sam Colangelo for the Steel and Riese Gaber for the Fighting Saints. Colangelo comes into the weekend on a seven-game point streak, just recording his second hat trick of the season last weekend. Gaber is riding a four-game point streak coming into the weekend. He finished the month of February with 11 goals in 11 games.
-Offensively, these are the two top teams in the league. Dubuque ranks second with 170 goals scored, while Chicago ranks first at 229 goals for. The Steel are on pace to become the first team in USHL Tier-1 history to finish above 300 goals for the season. The current record is 295, but that is a split between the U-17 and U-18 teams. The record for a single team is Waterloo’s 273.
-Dubuque has been the best team in the league on home ice this season with an 18-5 record. Chicago has been the best road team with a 20-2 record. Something will have to give on Friday when the two teams meet in a building that Dubuque last lost in on January 11th, against the Steel.
-Chicago is the only team to clinch a playoff spot this season and Dubuque will be close behind the Steel if they continue to roll. Dubuque’s magic number sits at 12, meaning any combination of wins from Dubuque and loses from the 6th seed to equal 12 points gives Dubuque a playoff berth for the 10th straight season.
-The 2019-20 Saints became the first team in the Tier-1 era for Dubuque to have six players record at least 15 goals. Antonio Venuto, Riese Gaber, Mark Cheremeta, Matthew Kopperud, Ty and Dylan Jackson all have reached that number