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PREVIEW: Thunder vs. Fighting Saints 1/6

By Jordan Kuhns, 01/06/17, 11:45AM CST


Only trip to Bloomington for Dubuque as the Thunder and Saints match up



ELECTRIC FLOW...The Dubuque Fighting Saints come into this game with the second-ranked power play in the USHL. Part of that success is the Saints 8-for-15 conversion rate in the last two games, including going 5-for-8 in the 8-0 win over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. They only trail the Green Bay Gamblers, who have only scored two more power play goals (30) than the Fighting Saints (28).

TO THE BOX, TO THE BOX...It’s a battle of the most penalized team in the league against one that certainly can get under a team’s collective skin. The Saints average around 21 minutes in penalties per game, including a league-high 15 major penalties and 23 10-minute misconducts. Bloomington averages 15 penalty minutes a game, with 137 minor penalties, which ranks middle of the pack, and not by much.

SPREAD OUT...The Eastern Conference playoff race at the midway point is unbelievably close. Five teams are actively vying for four spots, with the Saints occupying the second spot, but are just two points away from dropping to fourth. Not as close, but within striking distance, remains Chicago, who is six points up on the Saints. A win, coupled with a Youngstown loss in Muskegon, would offer some sort of space in the standings.


SEARCHING FOR THE OFFENSE...The Bloomington Thunder have scored the third-fewest goals in the USHL (74), and scoring just two goals a night ago against the Green Bay Gamblers did not help. The Thunder have just one double-digit goal scorer (Vladislav Dzhioshvili), and eight players with more than 10 points. In contrast, the Saints have 12 players with more than 10 points, and four players with more than 20 points.

EASTERN STRUGGLES...Bloomington recently strung together a bit of a winning streak, but collectively, they have struggled against the Eastern Conference. Bloomington is 10-9-3 against the East, but they did battle to pick up the extra point in three of those games by pushing the game to overtime. The Fighting Saints, in reference, are 14-3-1 against the Eastern Conference.

GOAL GUTTMAN...Five of forward Cole Guttman’s ten goals on the season have come in the last five games. His streak of success has included three consecutive multi-point efforts. His goal on Monday evening was a goal of the game-winning variety, and his second game-winner of the season. He is also one who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and score, with a 17.2% success rate.


#SOLOWSTREAK...Does it continue tonight? At 16 games, and 26 points, Zach Solow has rocketed up to being the second-leading scorer in the entire USHL. The Northeastern commit has only been held off of the scoresheet four times this season, and has never been held without a shot on goal in any game. During what is being termed the #SolowStreak, he has eight different multi-point games, including one four-point game on December 30, and seven two-point games. The streak started on October 28, which means that Solow celebrated his birthday on November 6, won a gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge, and has helped lead the team to an 11-3-2 record with him in the lineup.