DUBUQUE, Iowa — The balance of the season will be decided on Saturday. In need of a win to keep pace with Team USA, the Dubuque Fighting Saints came out of the gates on fire. The Saints chased starting goaltender Matt Davis, scored five goals in the opening period, and rode the momentum swing to the end as they took care of business in an 8-4 win over the Green Bay Gamblers on Friday night at the Mystique Community Ice Center.
Goals from Matt Savoie, Robert Cronin and P.J. Fletcher in a four-minute window chased Green Bay’s starting goaltender in favor of backup Aaron Randazzo, who played the final 48 minutes. Savoie opened the scoring with a picture-perfect shot off the wing at 8:33. Cronin roofed a shot from in close on the team’s first power play. Fletcher converted on a pass from Stephen Halliday, one of his three assists on the evening.
Connor Kurth’s dazzling individual effort at 16:12, followed by Cronin’s second goal of the night just 32 seconds later, spelled doom for any Green Bay comeback effort. Jake Schmaltz’s goal late in the first period was a temporary reprieve, as the Fighting Saints continued to pour it on in the second period.
Green Bay had the territorial advantage in the first ten minutes of the second period, but it was Dubuque who came away with two goals in the period. Savoie tallied his second goal of the night on the power play with a dart of a one-timer from the left circle, and Primo Self exited the penalty box and found himself on the scoreboard. He cleaned up the rebound of a Cronin shot on a 3-on-2 break and made the score 7-1 heading into the third period.
Green Bay picked up the momentum out of a fight at the midway point of the second period, and converted that into some late scoring.
Jackson Kunz, Mason Lohrei and Ryan Kirwan added goals in the third period, but the comeback effort was too little, too late. Halliday added a goal to cap the Saints’ scoring.
Five Dubuque Fighting Saints players finished the night with multi-point efforts, led by Cronin (2-2-4) and Halliday (1-3-4), followed by Savoie (2-1-3), Kurth (1-2-3) and Tristan Lemyre (0-2-2). Lukas Parik polished off his 14th win of the season with 25 saves on the night. The Saints also picked up two goals on the power play on three opportunities.
The Fighting Saints’ postseason hopes hinge on one game. The Saints and Gamblers will play one more time at the Mystique Community Ice Center, with an 11th consecutive Clark Cup playoff berth on the line. Get your tickets at DubuqueFightingSaints.com.