DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Dubuque Fighting Saints needed a win to get in, and they got it. The Saints outscored the Green Bay Gamblers 14-4 on the weekend, and received points from nine players as they took care of business on home ice by the tune of a 6-0 shutout win on Saturday night at the Mystique Community Ice Center.
The win cemented the team’s tenth consecutive Clark Cup playoff berth and extended the USHL’s active playoff streak. Every year there has been a Clark Cup to fight for since 2010, the Dubuque Fighting Saints have been in the dance.
If there was any doubt, Lukas Parik put it to bed. The Czech netminder stopped all 22 shots fired his way for his first USHL shutout. He had to wait nearly 18 minutes to see his first shot on goal, as the Saints defense held Green Bay to just two shots on net in the opening period.
It was a romp early, much like the night before. Tristan Lemyre batted the rebound of a Henry Thrun shot towards the net out of midair past former Fighting Saint Aaron Randazzo to open the scoring at 5:32, and the floodgates opened from there. Stephen Halliday converted on the team’s second power play of the night on a snap shot from the right circle through a screen to double Dubuque’s lead.
Lemyre would score his second of the night on the rebound of a Matt Savoie shot at 14:47 to make it 3-0 after one period of play. The Saints increased their record to 19-5-0 when scoring the first goal of the game. From there, Dubuque never let off the gas.
Even as the Youngstown Phantoms took care of business by dispatching Team USA and eliminating them from playoff contention before the Fighting Saints could wrap it up officially with the win, the Saints poured on the offense in the final two periods of the game anyway.
Robert Cronin cruised through the slot and picked up a centering pass from Matt Savoie on the back half of a double minor power play after Mason Lohrei was sent to the box for high sticking. It was Cronin’s 28th of the season, which finished the year as the team’s top mark, and fifth-best in the USHL. That put the game well out of reach at 4-0.
Captain P.J. Fletcher scored his third goal of the weekend, and Max Montes scored four minutes after that to continue the frenzy in Dubuque. It capped the scoring at 6-0.
The Saints won five of the last seven games to put themselves in a position to get into the playoffs. They will face off against the Anderson Cup champions and number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Steel, in round one of the Clark Cup playoffs on Friday, April 30 at 7:05 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena.