With a three-goal second period, the Fighting Saints dominated the Central Illinois Flying Aces for large chunks of the game and clinched a spot in the Clark Cup Playoffs with a 6-4 victory on Sunday afternoon. The win for Dubuque was their 26th, matching their total from last season and they are now playoff bound for the ninth-straight season.
-After a tough loss to Des Moines the night before, Dubuque showed grit in rebounding quickly. The first period was sloppy for both teams, but the Saints were able to draw first blood with a power play goal from Logan Pietila as he circled down low and fired a backhander passed Ryan Snowden.
-Dubuque went up 2-0 early in the second on a Ty Jackson goal, his 14th of the season. Central Illinois answered with a five on three power play goal to cut the deficit to just one. However, Dubuque was able to score twice more in the late stages of the third period to give themselves a commanding lead going in to the third period.
-Cooper Haar, Matias Maccelli, Derek Contessa, Logan Pietila and Jacob Semik all had two-point games for the Saints. Contessa’s two goals marked the second time he has scored twice in the same game. He also did it during the second game of the season for Dubuque, a 4-2 win over the Youngstown Phantoms.
-Maccelli’s two assists put him at 69 for the season, tying Zach Solow for fourth most in a single season for the Saints during the tier-1 era. Maccelli has a very good chance to become the fourth Saint to tally 70 points in a season since the team returned to Dubuque in 2010-11. He also needs seven points in the last four games to tie Mike Szmatula’s record of 76 points in a single season.
-The Saints relinquished a few late goals as the Aces created a good push during the last five minutes of the game. However, Dubuque was well ahead at that point and the garbage-time goals had no effect on the outcome. For the Flying Aces, the loss pushed them out of the playoffs.
-Dubuque grabbed points 59 and 60 with the win and still sit in sixth, but now don’t have to worry about being caught. The nine-straight playoff trips is the longest active streak in the USHL as Dubuque has made the Clark Cup Playoffs each season since returning to Dubuque.
-Matthew Thiessen bounced back with some big saves in the game and received a well-deserved win with some offensive support. Thiessen had a tough weekend before this, and the win helped alleviate some of the feeling from the first two loses.
-Dubuque will have four games left as a tune up before the postseason. The Saints have to play Chicago, Cedar Rapids and then Waterloo twice. All three teams will be playoff teams and it will be a good test for the Fighting Saints heading in to the actual Clark Cup Playoffs which will start a few days after the last game of the regular season.