PEORIA, Ill. — A four-goal first period, and a hat trick by forward Alex Steeves powered the way for the Dubuque Fighting Saints on Saturday night at the Peoria Civic Center. The Saints defeated the Central Illinois Flying Aces 6-3, sweeping the weekend, and getting back to the .500 mark on the season.
Steeves started the scoring on the power play, picked up goal number three in the first period, and capped the scoring in the game. He also picked up an assist in the game, making it four points in the game, and five points overall for the weekend.
While the first period began with an early penalty kill, the Fighting Saints killed it off, and then went to work offensively. Steeves got the scoring started on feeds from Santeri Virtanen and Cole Guttman, a wrist shot from the right circle that evaded starter Zach Stejskal and put the Saints up 1-0.
Exactly one minute later, artistry. Bauer Neudecker picked off an outlet pass at the offensive blue line and slipped the puck to Chayse Primeau, who made a deft move around a defender and ripped a shot past Stejskal to increase the lead to 2-0.
Steeves blocked a shot from Brady Smith and took off on a breakaway. After beating the defense, Steeves made a quick move to the backhand to complete the move, and give the Saints a 3-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, Brendan Bushy made it four.
Central Illinois capped the period with a goal of their own from Tyler Madden, and cut the lead in half with an early tally from Matt Gosiewski, but the Fighting Saints battled back after that. After a missed chance by the Aces at one end, quick passing from Quinn Preston and Jacob Semik set up Virtanen for his second goal of the season, a one-timer from the right circle that beat Kris Carlson, who relieved Stejskal after the fourth goal.
Steeves added the exclamation point after a slick feed from Virtanen to complete the scoring for the Saints, his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Cole Weaver was outstanding in his first start, and first win, of his USHL career. He made 20 saves in the win, including several clutch saves in the third period, which preserved the lead. The defense held the Aces to just six shots on goal in the third period.
The weekend sweep got the Fighting Saints back to the .500 mark heading into next weekend’s matchup with the Omaha Lancers on Friday, November 3. It’s Stuff the Truck Night with Clare Cares, sponsored by Hy-Vee. Fans can donate at least two canned goods at the door to benefit St. Stephen’s Food Bank, and as our thanks to you, fans will receive a 10 cent fuel saver voucher, good at your local Hy-Vee gas station. For tickets, call the box office at 563.583.6880, or go to DubuqueFightingSaints.com.