YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — It took four leads to get the best of a pesky opponent, but the fourth one stood the test of time. Stephen Halliday’s power play goal at the 19:26 mark of the third period was the game-winning goal in a game that saw nine goals, four goaltenders and raucous action start to finish in a 5-4 win for the Dubuque Fighting Saints over the Youngstown Phantoms on Saturday night at the Covelli Centre.
A failed clear for Youngstown proved costly. Braden Doyle kept the zone at the right point, and set up Matt Savoie for a one-timer that was blocked in front, but the carom landed right on Halliday’s stick. With goaltender Mattias Sholl well out of position, Halliday had a wide open net to shoot at, and hit it, to give the Fighting Saints the lead for good in the final minute.
Hobie Hedquist was forced into the game past the halfway point of regulation time due to an injury to starting goaltender Lukas Parik, and was instrumental in keeping the game tied at four late in the third period. His shorthanded stop of Jack Malone, among his other 12 saves in the third period, kept the Fighting Saints at least tied with a chance to take the two points.
Dubuque finished the first period ahead 4-2 thanks half in part to Robert Cronin, whose two goals stoked them to the lead, both assisted by Halliday. His first, a power play goal, beat Colin Purcell, who started back-to-back nights for the Phantoms, was a rebound stash on a seam feed by Halliday, and his second found the back of the net after Halliday spotted him going to the goal, and his second chance opportunity banked off of Purcell’s backside and into the goal.
That chased Purcell in favor of Sholl, who played out the final 43 minutes of regulation time.
The Phantoms utilized some momentum after the goaltending change, and rode the wave through the rest of the game, as they did the night before. Jack Malone’s power play goal bested Parik and sliced the Saints’ lead to just one at 4-3. Moments later, Parik left the game due to injury, and Hedquist took over in net.
Dylan Gratton eventually tied the game for the Phantoms halfway through the third period with a quick shot from the point with traffic in front to tie the game, at the time, for the third time. But it would ultimately end up with Gratton in the penalty box that led to the fateful power play goal that gave the Saints the victory.
The Saints took the lead early in the action—just 57 seconds in, to be precise. Henry Thrun’s wrist shot through a passing screen beat Purcell. This started the topsy-turvy, wild first period. Sergei Kuznetsov’s redirection in the slot 44 seconds later tied the game.
Connor Kurth added his second goal in as many games with a strip steal at the offensive blue line, and pulled a deke out of his toolbox to best Purcell to the post and re-establish the lead. But again, Youngstown would not go away quietly. Winter Wallace converted a few minutes later off the rush to tie the game once again.
It was a Saints team that had gone 0-for-7 the previous night on the power play that hit the back of the net on the power play twice on three occasions, and denied Youngstown on three of four power plays of their own to win the special teams battle on the night.
The Fighting Saints return to action on Tuesday, March 16 to take on the Green Bay Gamblers at the Resch Center for a 7:05 p.m. start. Join the Saints at the official watch party starting at 6:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in downtown Dubuque.