DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Chicago Steel entered the third period up 5-1, but did not complete the third period with that same lead. The Dubuque Fighting Saints staged a furious push in the final 18 minutes of the game, and came up just one goal short in a 6-5 loss to Chicago on Wednesday night at the Mystique Community Ice Center.
Quinn Preston, Cole Guttman and Keenan Suthers all scored in the third period for Dubuque, responding to goals by Matt Kiersted and Tyler Gratton, to put the Saints within striking distance each time. But each time, Chicago found a way to have one more goal.
Gratton scored to start the period before Preston and Guttman teamed up to notch three consecutive goals in a four-minute span. Just one minute and 47 seconds elapsed between the Saints’ second and third goals to start the comeback. Guttman’s second goal of the night, and second for the Saints in consecutive fashion, came fewer than three minutes later.
Kiersted’s goal came two minutes later, and Suthers’ goal came in the final moments of regulation in a dizzying whirl of action in the final moments in which the Saints came close to tying the game multiple times.
The Saints outshot the Steel 11-6 in a period that Jaxon Castor was replaced by Evan Fear, which started the rally right then and there. Castor punctuated his time in net with a scramble in front of his net in which he made five consecutive saves on a penalty kill to keep Chicago off the board.
The Steel’s dominance in the first two frames was illustrated by their second-period effort. Patrick Kudla got the Fighting Saints on the board with a power play one-time blast at 13:24, but Chicago raced right back. Gratton scored his first of the night just 25 seconds after Kudla’s goal, and Steel captain Marc Johnstone scored with a mere five seconds left in the second.
The Steel got the scoring started with two goals in the first period. Jake Jaremko scored his first power play goal of the season, and 11th of his career, with a tap-in at the side of the net following a rebound, and Johnny Walker deflected a Corson Green point shot through the legs of Castor to extend the lead to 2-0.
Chicago goaltender Ales Stezka held the fort for Chicago with a 24-save effort. Castor stopped 17 of 21 shots fired his way, and Fear denied 4 of 6. The game featured 16 different penalties for a total of 54 penalty minutes.
Dubuque gets back to work on Friday, December 30 to wrap up hockey in the 2016 calendar year, and look ahead to 2017, as they face the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at The Stable starting at 7:05 p.m. Catch all of the action on Dubuque’s Super Hits 106.1 FM, or on the USHL’s streaming video provider, HockeyTV.