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PREVIEW: Steel vs. Fighting Saints Game 1

By Jordan Kuhns, 04/28/17, 1:30PM CDT


Second round begins tonight




ONCE MORE...The journey towards the Clark Cup Final is one step closer. If the Fighting Saints were to get there, it would be the organization’s second trip in as many years, and fourth in seven years since rejoining the league. They face a Chicago Steel team that has not been at this stage of the game since 2008, and has never made it to the Clark Cup Final.

SERIES SPLIT...This season series was split down the middle, much like the last series. Both teams scored just about as many goals, and gave up the same amount, in the first round. During the regular season, they scored 14 goals apiece. The Saints, on one hand, had the second-best power play during the regular season. The Steel, on the other hand, had the league’s best penalty kill during the regular season.

FATIGUE FACTOR...The Chicago Steel were forced to play a decisive Game 5 on Tuesday, much like last season’s second-round opponent, the Bloomington Thunder. The Saints took it to the Thunder in Game 1 of that series, 7-1, and won the series thanks in part to that effort. Can the Fighting Saints find a way to exploit this, and use their freshness en route to a Game 1 win?


SECOND LINE SCORING...The line of Cole Guttman, Quinn Preston and Jacob Hamacher has excelled since they were put together in early March. The line posted nine points in the Game 4 win over the Lumberjacks en route to the series win. Guttman’s return to the lineup was much needed, as all three of his playoff points came in the win, as he took just two shifts in Game 1.

BADINI’S MAGIC TRICKS...The player to watch offensively in this series is Jack Badini. He leads the way with 6 points in the playoffs, with his sixth one being the most important. His goal in Game 5 was the game-winner in a 2-0 win over the Youngstown Phantoms. Badini was also one of hte league’s most proficient goal scorers, as his 28 tallies ranked fifth.

LAMMERS’ LEGACY...This will be head coach Jason Lammers’ first game since being named the head coach of the Niagara University Purple Eagles on Monday. Lammers put forth a 75-36-9 record during his two regular seasons, and a 9-6-1 record throughout his playoff tenure. Lammers will look to lead the Fighting Saints to a fourth playoff series victory.


GARGANTUAN GOALIES...Both of quite tall stature, and both critical to their respective team’s success in round one, Jaxon Castor and Ales Stezka are about to face off again. Castor ended the opening round with a 1.62 GAA and a .944 save percentage en route to a four-game series win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Stezka put up near-identical numbers— a 1.61 GAA and a .951 save percentage in one more game than Castor. The only difference between the two is that Stezka faced about 40 more shots, and all of those came in Game 5 against Youngstown, where he shut them out.