Team USA’s U-17 squad scored the final five goals of the game to defeat the Dubuque Fighting Saints 7-5 on Sunday evening. Dubuque got off to a 4-2 lead in the first period, but the young U-17’s methodically pushed back to even the game early in the third and then push ahead in the final eight minutes. Sasha Pastujov scored twice and Kaidan Mbereko made 13 stops in relief to secure the win.
-This was just the second weekend of the season in which Dubuque lost twice. The Saints have done a great job of bouncing back from defeats but despite the win in the middle of the weekend, Dubuque couldn’t get much else going.
-The Saints relinquished 15 goals, which is also a high for any weekend this season. The top defensive team in the league looked out of sorts at times during the weekend’s games.
-The offense was not out of sorts, scoring 13 goals on the weekend in the three games. Dubuque scored five in the first two periods against Team USA but couldn’t muster offense once Mbereko stepped in.
-Gibson Homer, who started the game for Team USA in net, was pulled for Mbereko after allowing five goals on 15 shots. The move helped as Team USA did not let up another goal after the fact.
-The U-17’s were flying all night as is their style. They had the fresher legs in the third period and took advantage of it to the tune of three goals.
-Team USA now heads to Green Bay for two against the Gamblers as their three in three is just beginning.
-Dubuque ends the 2019 portion of the season with a 19-5-1 record. That mark is fourth best in the USHL, behind only Waterloo, Team USA and Chicago. Dubuque will face Chicago twice and Waterloo four times in the first three weeks of January.
-Antonio Venuto was a bright spot for Dubuque in the game, scoring twice for the Fighting Saints in the 7-5 loss. Matthew Kopperud completed a strong weekend with two assists in the game for the Saints.
-11 different players tallied points for the U-17’s in the win as they received just two multi-point efforts. The balance of all four lines was showcased, especially late in the game as they kept the line combos fluid.
-Dubuque is off for a week before they take on Waterloo at home on Friday. They will travel to Waterloo on Saturday to face the Black Hawks again.