YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Dubuque Fighting Saints flew out of the gates to a 2-0 lead halfway through the first period, but the Youngstown Phantoms surged back in kind. Buoyed by six unanswered goals, including four in the second period, the Phantoms ended a ten-game losing streak and defeated the Saints 6-3 on Friday night at the Covelli Centre.
While the Saints had seven chances on the power play, and had only taken three penalties that led to power plays on the other side, it was the Phantoms who ended the night plus two on the special teams battle. They killed off all seven Dubuque power plays, scored a power play goal of their own, and scored a shorthanded goal, which changed the complexion of the game late in the first period.
Jaden Grant batted the puck away from Braden Doyle at the point and broke in on an odd-man rush with Georgii Merkulov. The Belarusian gave the puck to Grant who put the puck into the back of the net and halved the Saints’ lead from 2-0 to 2-1 at the 18:48 mark of the first period.
From there, Youngstown caught fire. They scored on four of eight shots they took in the second period, and chased goaltender Lukas Parik from the goal after 29:22 of action. Yusaku Ando, Sergei Kuznetsov and Reilly Funk all scored within a four minute span to extend Youngstown’s lead to 4-2.
Hobie Hedquist took over in net, and immediately faced a Phantoms power play where college returnee Jack Malone scored to make it 5-2. Merkulov capped Youngstown’s scoring at 5:07 of the third period on a rebound to put Youngstown’s lead at its largest.
Dubuque hit the ground running and controlled offensive zone time and was rewarded for it. Connor Kurth’s effort play at the nine minute mark of the first period opened the scoring. Kurth dumped the puck into the Youngstown zone, and while in the feet of a defender, he whipped the puck on goal and beat a startled Colin Purcell to make it 1-0 Saints.
Andrei Buyalsky and Daniyal Dzhaniyev connected once again on a beautiful give-and-go passing play to double the Fighting Saints’ lead. Buyalsky whipped a seam pass to Dzhaniyev who crashed the back post and doubled the Dubuque lead at the 10:48 mark of the first period.
Riley Stuart added a late goal in the third period for the Saints to cap Dubuque’s scoring.
The Fighting Saints take on the Phantoms in a rematch on Saturday, March 13 at 6:05 p.m. central. Catch the action on the Fighting Saints Radio Network, or on the USHL’s streaming video platform, HockeyTV.