PLYMOUTH, Mich. — It took an extra conversation, but Lukas Parik’s poke check of Ryan St. Louis in the third round of the shootout proved decisive, in complement to Matt Savoie’s triple deke goal in round two, as the Dubuque Fighting Saints defeated Team USA’s National Team Development Program U18s 3-2. Dubuque took all four points in the crucial back-to-back matchups.
St. Louis broke down the wing in the third round, and as Parik came well out of his crease to challenge the shooter, his paddle stopped the puck in its tracks, and by rule, a shootout goal cannot be scored on a second chance opportunity. After a lengthy conversation at the Team USA bench, the call on the ice stood, and the Saints ultimately picked up the extra point in the shootout.
Savoie undressed goaltender Kaidan Mbereko with a scintillating set of hands and deposited the puck in on the forehand in tight to give the Saints the only goal they needed in the shootout to pick up the victory. Robert Cronin was denied in round one.
All of the scoring in regulation on Friday night at USA Hockey Arena came in the second period. Dubuque took two leads against a club that was near unstoppable when they scored the first goal.
Henry Thrun, who played two seasons with the NTDP, and who was only playing his second game back with the Fighting Saints since winning gold at the World Junior Championships, tallied for Dubuque at the 3:37 mark of the middle frame. Riley Stuart gained the offensive blue line, and while Connor Kurth and Stuart drove the middle lane, Team USA did not rotate defensively to cover Thrun. His snap shot beat Mbereko to open the scoring.
Team USA knotted it up almost immediately. Out of a netmouth scramble, Dylan Duke stashed home the loose puck that was behind Parik.
The Saints would not go lightly into the night. Andrei Buyalsky decided to take the game into his own hands with a highlight-reel tally at the 10:29 mark. Using his trademark afterburners, he took a return pass from Daniyal Dzhaniyev and redirected the puck between his legs and past Mbereko to give Dubuque the lead. It was Buyalsky’s eighth goal in his last eight games.
Team USA tied it with a goal from Ethan Martin late in the second.
The Fighting Saints had multitudinous chances to end the game in the third period, and into overtime. Mbereko was under siege by the Saints in the extra session, as he had to deny point-blank chances from both Braden Doyle and Stephen Halliday in overtime.
Parik’s best work came in the first period, as he stonewalled St. Louis on a shorthanded opportunity, and made several other key saves to keep the game scoreless throughout the first period, which was largely evenly played. Friday’s win gives him wins in three of his last four starts.
The Fighting Saints are back in action against the Youngstown Phantoms at the Covelli Centre next Friday, March 12 at 6:05 central. Catch the action on the Fighting Saints Radio Network, or on HockeyTV.