MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Dubuque Fighting Saints erased a nightmarish start, garnered a standings point, and remained in control of second place in the Eastern Conference, even while losing. The Muskegon Lumberjacks got a goal from Andrei Svechnikov in the second round of the shootout, resulting in a 4-3 win for the Jacks at the L.C. Walker Arena on Friday night.
Matt Steeves, Mikael Hakkarainen and Svechnikov all scored in a four minute, twenty minute span in the first period to open the floodgates for the Lumberjacks. The three goals on five shots chased starter Jaxon Castor from the net, and gave way for Evan Fear in relief. The game turned then and there.
Steeves cashed in on a rebound off of a Jachym Kondelik shot. Hakkarainen backhanded a Garrett Van Wyhe pass right down broadway to extend the lead. Svechnikov redirected a Marcus Russell shot from the point through to make it 3-0.
It took a Colin Theisen goal in the midst of a Muskegon turnover to cut the lead to two, where the game would stay for a while. Jeff Baum ranged into the offensive zone and slipped a pass to Theisen for his 19th of the season through the wickets of Jacks goaltender Keith Petruzzelli.
The Saints’ power play went punchless throughout the second period, and they were outshot 12-7 in the middle frame, but opportunities continued to mount, until they came to a head in the third period.
Dubuque outshot the Jacks 14-6 in the third, and got the goals they needed to complete a momentous comeback. Patrick Kudla set up Quinn Preston, whose shot bounded in off of Petruzzelli and into the open goal to cut Muskegon’s lead to one. Then, just 90 seconds later, Zach Solow pounced on a Muskegon turnover and found Theisen in the slot for his league-leading 20th goal of the year to tie the game up at threes.
Overtime solved nothing, though chances were numerous. Petruzzelli stopped Solow, Kudla and Cole Guttman, and Svechnikov scored the only goal of the shootout leading to the 4-3 win.
Fear, through his 62 minutes and 40 seconds of action, stopped all 24 shots he saw in relief. Over his last two appearances, he has stopped 58 of 60 shots fired his way, for a .966 save percentage.
The Saints and the Jacks will go at it once again on Saturday at 6:15 CST. The game will be available on Dubuque’s Super Hits 106.1 FM, or free on the streaming video provider of the USHL, HockeyTV.