TIE BALLGAME...This series is tied. The Eastern Conference Final now turns to the Fighting Saints’ home ice, and a chance to close out the series. The Fighting Saints outscored the Steel in the two games, and head into Game 3 on a winning note. When the series is tied under Jason Lammers’ watch, the Fighting Saints are 3-0-0, with two of those wins coming in the Eastern Conference Final last season.
CAPTAIN’S ORDERS...Both teams’ captains have been leading the way for their respective teams. Fighting Saints captain Dallas Gerads leads the team with 5 points, and points in four of the six playoff games thus far. Chicago Steel captain Marc Johnstone is right there with him, as he ranks second in points (7), and has points in all but one playoff game thus far.
LATE TO THE PARTY...Proof that you can’t let Chicago go at any point: half of the 20 goals they have scored in the playoffs have come in the third period. The Steel have scored just three goals in the first period, but have only allowed two, which is the best defensive period. One could say the same thing about the Fighting Saints, as 9 of their 20 goals have been scored in the third.
ADVANTAGE SAINTS?...Under the direction of head coach Jason Lammers, the Dubuque Fighting Saints have not lost when a playoff series has been tied. However, the main obstacle for the Saints is the performance on home ice, where the team racked up an 18-8-4 record, in which the 18 wins were tied for the fewest on home ice in the team’s new history.
CONSISTENTLY CONSISTENT...The Fighting Saints have found success against the opposing netminder in every game they have ever played against him. Dating back to last season, the Saints have scored three or more goals against Ales Stezka in all six meetings, with a record of 4-2-0 in those games. The strange part of it is that they have scored three on the button in five of those meetings—no more, no less.
JAZZY JAXON...Calm, cool, collected. Jaxon Castor has stopped 63 of 68 shots fired his way in the second round, with a .926 save percentage, and a 2.54 goals against average. Among goaltenders who have played a playoff game, he has the third-best goals-against average (1.91), and the second-best save percentage (.938), including a shutout to his credit.
NOT IMPOSSIBLE...A huge key to the series for the Fighting Saints was breaking through the Steel’s impressive penalty kill, which was perfect heading into Game 2. After Game 2, it was perfect no longer. Patrick Kudla’s 5-on-3 goal was the first power play goal that the Steel had given up in 21 opportunities. The Steel now have the second-best penalty kill in the Clark Cup Playoffs at 95.2%, and finished the regular season with the league’s best mark, at 90.3%. The struggle will have to continue on.