DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Des Moines Buccaneers staked themselves out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play, and rode a strong shooting percentage to defeat the Dubuque Fighting Saints 6-2 on Saturday night at the Mystique Community Ice Center.
The Bucs struck three times in a six and a half minute span to take the lead. Matt Choupani started the scoring by capitalizing on a turnover and broke through on a breakaway to score his first of the night.
Zakary Karpa converted on a pretty passing play to give Des Moines the 2-0 lead, and three minutes later, Josh Luedtke added a power play tally, which stood as the game-winning goal.
The Saints responded to a Luedtke goal with a power play goal from Robert Cronin at the 12:06 mark of the second period. Stephen Halliday and Matthew Savoie played catch from circle to circle, and Halliday's bid towards the net hit a Bucs skate and popped right to Cronin, where he scored his 13th goal of the season.
After the fourth goal against the Saints, goaltender Lukas Parik was replaced by Hobie Hedquist.
The Saints picked up a late goal from P.J. Fletcher on a feed from Tristan Lemyre in response to two tallies from Des Moines. Dubuque outshot Des Moines 14-3 in the third period alone, and 31-15 for the game.
With the win from Team USA on Saturday night, the Fighting Saints face an 11 point deficit for the fourth and final playoff spot, however, they hold two games in hand, and tomorrow's game represents a four-point swing in the standings. The game starts at 3:05 p.m.