Photo by Hickling Images
Team: Dubuque Fighting Saints
Head Coach: Oliver David, 1st season
“I'm really anticipating our club continuing to create on-ice success. I'm happy in returning to the team that I'm familiar with a core group of guys, namely our captain, Cole Guttman, and one of our goaltenders, Jaxon Castor. I also have a familiarity with several other players, having been a part of the draft that brought them here. Having just started training camp, the energy is palpable here in Dubuque. Everyone is really excited to get going. In the end, it's about the development of these guys in preparing them for the next step. That's what matters most. That's what our priority is for the season. It's for these players to successfully transition to the college ranks and beyond one day.”
2016-17 Record: 36-17-5-2 (79 PTS, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Top Returners: Jaxon Castor, Cole Guttman, Quinn Preston, Jacob Semik, Alex Steeves
Notable Additions: Josh Maniscalco, Tyce Thompson, Santeri Virtanen
After another season in which the Fighting Saints won a playoff series, their seventh straight year doing so, they look to reload with a new head coach behind the bench. Former Dubuque assistant coach Oliver David takes over for Jason Lammers, who was named head coach at Niagara University earlier this year.
Fighting Saints captain Cole Guttman, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2017 NHL Draft, will lead the way up front for Dubuque. The St. Cloud commit is coming off a huge rookie season in which he finished second among USHL rookies and tied for eighth among all players in scoring with 54 PTS (27G, 27A) in 53 games. Quinn Preston and Alex Steeves are also notable returning forwards for a team that will be looking to take the next step after falling to the eventual Clark Cup champion Chicago Steel in last year’s Eastern Conference Final. Santeri Virtanen, who was selected by the Winnipeg Jets over the summer and spent last preseason with Dubuque, will join the roster full time and will also look to be a key contributor up front for the Fighting Saints.
The blue line also looks to be a strong part of the Fighting Saints roster. Dubuque added Josh Maniscalco from Team USA in the 2017 USHL Phase II Draft, and he will join a group of defensemen that include 2018 NHL Draft prospect Jacob Semik, who played for Team USA at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, as well as returning blueliners Aidan Fulp, Brendan Bushy and Casey Staum.
In goal, Dubuque will lean on veteran backstop Jaxon Castor, who is primed to have another solid season after a first full USHL year which saw him put up a 2.35 GAA and .902 SV%. Castor was also a workhorse, as he started 50 of the 60 Fighting Saints regular season games in 2016-17. Evan Fear and is also returning to Dubuque and will be vying for a spot as Castor’s backup along with newcomer Cole Weaver, who spent last season with the Winkler Flyers (MJHL), putting up a 2.49 GAA and .906 SV%. He was named MJHL Rookie of the Year and was named to the All-MJHL Second Team and MJHL All-Rookie Team.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.