Backed by a strong second period, the Dubuque Fighting Saints rolled past the Muskegon Lumberjacks, beating them 4-1 on Thursday morning. Dubuque used second period goals from Riese Gaber, Dylan Jackson and Matthew Kopperud to propel the team to their first win of 2019-20. The Saints moved to 6-4 in their regular season openers since returning to Dubuque.
-After averaging five goals a game in the preseason, the Dubuque offense looked sluggish to begin the regular season. However, that lasted all of a period as they exploded in period two with three goals. The big hitters were out for Dubuque as the top two lines combined for all three goals.
-Special teams was a deciding factor in the game as Dubuque killed off two Muskegon power plays early in the third to preserve a 3-1 lead. The Saints gained the lead for good on a power play goal of their own, when Dylan Jackson’s twisted wrister found the back of the net.
-Erik Portillo was strong in net during his first action of the regular season. Portillo stopped 23 shots, including 20 straight after allowing an early goal to Muskegon. The Saints netminder was especially good in the third when Dubuque was holding on to a two-goal lead.
-The Lumberjacks looked dangerous offensively at times, but Dubuque did a good job of containing them, especially their top player in Danil Guschin. Guschin looked dangerous in the first but was unable to get on the scoresheet and became less and less of a factor as the game went on.
-After scoring a power play goal in three of four preseason games, the Dubuque power play put them ahead in the second. The unit continued to look strong, building off their preseason success.
-The second period goals for Dubuque came fast and furious. Gaber received a strong feed from Cheremeta and trickled the puck over the line for the first goal. Dylan Jackson popped a wicked wrister past Noah Giesbrecht on the power play and Matthew Kopperud made a slick move in tight for the third of the period.
-Both teams traded chances in a somewhat sleepy first period. The Fighting Saints had 10 shots to Muskegon’s 12, but few were prime opportunities. Christophe Fillion scored the lone goal of the period at 6:24.
-The Fighting Saints are back in action tomorrow at 10am ET/9 CT when they take on the Madison Capitols. The Saints were 6-1 against Madison last year and will look to start the season 2-0 in the USHL Fall Classic. Tomorrow’s game will be on Super Hits 106 and Hockey TV.