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PREVIEW: RoughRiders vs. Fighting Saints 12/30

By Jordan Kuhns, 12/30/16, 11:45AM CST


Fighting Saints look to break malaise vs. last-place Riders



FROM STREAK TO STREAK...The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders ended an 18-game losing streak to begin the season with three consecutive wins. They outscored said opposition in those wins 9-2, and played their best hockey of the season. Since then, they have dropped six games in a row, never scoring more than two goals in a game, and being outscored 21-8.

NOT QUITE ENOUGH...The Saints can build on Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Steel—the third period, anyway. Down 5-1 just two minutes into the third, the Saints clawed to within one goal, eventually falling 6-5. The Saints have scored 5 or more goals three times this season, with Wednesday’s game being one of them. It was the first time the Fighting Saints had given up 6 goals.

IN SEARCH OF CONSISTENCY...It has been a .500 stretch since December 3, with alternating wins and losses since. In the midst of that, the Saints sit third in the Eastern Conference with a two-point cushion, and just one game in hand on their primary competitors. During this 3-3-0 stretch, the Saints are averaging a shade over two goals per game, and averaging 3.5 goals against.


LACK OF BALANCE...The only team to give up more than 100 goals, and score fewer than 50, is the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Bloomington’s 59 goals is the next step above CR in the goals-for category, and Omaha’s 92 goals-against is second-worst in the USHL. The RoughRiders have played four goaltenders this season, with 16-year-old Drew DeRidder getting the bulk of the starts lately.

ROBBINS’ RESURGENCE...In need of some sort of offensive jump, veteran forward Zac Robbins has taken the mantle and done the work. Robbins has points in four of his last eight games, including 2 goals and 2 assists. The UConn commit is also poised to crush his previous season totals, needing just one goal to hit a new career-high (8), and 5 points to tie his total (17).

MOONS OVER MY HAMMY...Saints forward Jacob Hamacher returns to the fold tonight following his one-game suspension. The playmaking forward ranks third on the team with 21 points, and had been on a semi-recent roll of 6 points in the past month. He is slated to be on a line with new center Keenan Suthers, and Quinn Preston, who has 7 points in the past 4 games (3 goals, 4 assists).


SOLOW’S STREAKING...No amount of time away from the Saints could keep Zach Solow from scoring. The Saints’ forward and leading scorer has accumulated 4 goals and 16 points on this remarkable 14-game point streak, which is the longest active streak in the league. Only Youngstown Phantoms’ forward Curtis Hall has the next closest, at 5 games.

DIAGNOSING THE PROBLEM...It all starts in the second period. Cedar Rapids owns the worst goal differential in the league, but the second period’s differential is most striking. At -28, the Riders have been outscored 46-18 in the middle frame.