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Weekend Primer: Lumberjacks and Buccaneers Roll in to Dubuque to Take on Fighting Saints

March 8, 2019 - United States Hockey League (USHL) - Dubuque Fighting Saints News Release

After splitting with the second place Chicago Steel, Dubuque will take on the top ranked team in the Eastern Conference, the Muskegon Lumberjacks and also the Des Moines Buccaneers. Dubuque currently sits fifth in the east, four points back of the Youngstown Phantoms and two points up on Team USA. Dubuque will start a mini three-game home stand Friday.

-Muskegon has come back to the pack slightly since their torrid start, but they are still 12 points up on the second place Steel. The Lumberjacks are second in the USHL with 73 points and they boast the league's top offense with over 3.9 goals per game.

-Muskegon and Dubuque have played each other three times this season, with the Lumberjacks winning 5-4 and 4-3, while Dubuque has taken one game by a 3-2 score. The Fighting Saints have three points in the three games as the 4-3 loss was an overtime loss.

-The Lumberjacks are led by Egor Afanasyev, whose 53 points are tops on his team and 6thin the league. Afanasyev loves to shoot as well. He is third in the league with 166 shots. The Russian power-forward is 7thin the USHL with 23 goals.

-The Lumberjacks top ranked offense is also incredibly balanced. The team features four players with 45 points or more, making them the only team in the league with four players at that total. Muskegon also features seven players with 30 points or more.

-The one area of struggle for Muskegon has been their power play. Despite getting off to a hot start, the unit has slid every single month in the rankings. The Lumberjacks are currently 11thin the league with a 17.9% power play.

-Des Moines has gone the wrong way since the last time they faced Dubuque. The Buccaneers are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games and 7-9-2 since they last squared off with the Fighting Saints. The Buccaneers offense has been the main issues. Des Moines has been shut out three times since the start of February after being shut out just twice the entire season before.

-The Buccaneers are coming off a hard fought 3-1 win over the Fargo Force and they will be taking on the Waterloo Black Hawks tonight before their game with Dubuque tomorrow. Des Moines is locked in a tight Western Conference battle with Fargo as the two are separated by just a point in fourth and fifth place.

-Matt Brown is the catalyst for Des Moines offense. The speedy winger leads the team in goals and points. He has 24 goals and 23 assists for a balanced 47 points. Brown was held off the scoresheet in his only game against Dubuque this season.

-Once the top scoring team in the league, Des Moines has now slipped to eight with 159 total goals. The Buccaneers have averaged 2.09 goals per game since February 1st.

-Dubuque has been right around .500 in their last 10 games, with a 5-4-0-1 record. The Fighting Saints are coming off one of their better weekends in recent memory with a 5-3 win over Chicago and then a 5-3 loss where they largely outplayed the Steel.

-Matias Maccelli continued his fantastic season, tallying two goals over the weekend. Maccelli leads Dubuque in goals, assists, points, power play assists, power play points, shots and plus-minus. The Finnish phenom has been an offensive threat nearly every game.

-Willie Knierim's final season in the USHL has been his best with the Fighting Saints. He sits tied for second on the team with 37 points. Knierim has been particularly good for Dubuque at home. Through 21 home games this year, Knierim has 22 points.

-The Fighting Saints will look to hold serve at home, an ice surface that has been unkind to them this season. Dubuque has the third fewest points on home ice with 19. At 8-10-1-2 they have some work to do, but they have plenty of home games left to play.

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