The Fighting Saints skated to a 5-2 win over the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Friday night, aided by a hat trick from Braden Doyle. The hat trick was the second of the season for the Saints and the first from a Saints defenseman in Tier-1 history. Dubuque improved to 7-2 at home with the win and 15-3-1 on the season.
-The Saints got off to a quick start, notching two goals in the first period. Doyle got the first of the game on a delayed penalty. Matthew Kopperud followed shortly after, grabbing his own rebound in front and sending it past Jon Williams of Muskegon.
-The Lumberjacks answered in the second period with a power play goal from Tanner Kelly and after 40 minutes the lead for Dubuque was just one despite Muskegon throwing just 11 shots on net.
-Braden Doyle kicked things off in the third with a power play goal early to regain the two-goal lead for Dubuque. The goal snapped a 0 for 11 drought on the man advantage for Dubuque.
-Muskegon answered quickly to once again cut the lead in half. However, Dubuque’s persistence paid off as the Saints were able to push in a net mouth scramble on a Stephen Halliday wrap around. Halliday’s goal was his second of the season and first since October 18th.
-Doyle worked his magic one final time, weaving his way through half of the Muskegon team to score his third of the game. There had been six two-goal games by a Saints defenseman in Tier-1 history before that goal, but Doyle was the first to complete the hat trick.
-Muskegon struggled on offense as they certainly looked like they were missing Danil Guschin and Rhett Pitlick. Both players are currently at the World Junior A Challenge and Muskegon was unable to sustain consistent offense without them.
-The Lumberjacks hung tough, however; and the game was largely closer than the final score dictated. It wasn’t until late that the Saints were able to truly pull away.
-Lost in the offensive outburst was another strong start from Erik Portillo. Portillo’s win gave him 11 on the season as he remained tied for the USHL lead in wins. Portillo made 17 stops in the Dubuque victory.
-Tomorrow night will be Teddy Bear Toss night for the Fighting Saints. Dubuque will host the event for the 10th straight year. After the first Saints goal all the stuffed animals that are thrown on the ice will be donated to Toys for Tots in Dubuque. Once again the Saints battle Muskegon, with puck drop coming at 7:05.