MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Dubuque Fighting Saints’ offense got the first goal and never faltered. In the midst of the Muskegon Lumberjacks continual attempts to even the score, the Saints’ offense continued to keep it forever out of reach. The Saints’ four-goal second period was the difference in their 7-4 win over the Lumberjacks on Friday night at Mercy Health Arena.
The top line of Connor Kurth, Stephen Halliday and Ryan Beck gave Muskegon’s defense fits. It was Halliday on a give-and-go with Kurth to open the scoring, and it was the top line who supplied four of the seven goals on the night as an overall. Kurth added two goals, Halliday one, and Beck and empty-net tally to put the game away.
The second period was where the Saints pulled away, but continually met resistance. Kurth scored his first of the night, set up by Beck at the side of the net. He jammed the puck past Platon Zadorozhnyy to double the Fighting Saints’ lead to 2-0. Muskegon scored at 9:40 to cut the lead to one courtesy of Nick Peluso.
The Saints got it right back. William Hallén, set up by Max Montes, scored his first USHL goal at 11:06 with a snipe from the slot. However, on the ensuing shift, just 23 seconds later, Philip Tresca cut the lead back to one by converting on a breakaway opportunity. Kurth ended the insanity at 12:24 with his second of the night, set up by Beck again, to re-establish the two-goal lead.
The two teams would trade goals again before the period ended. Quinn Huston scored at 16:35 to once again put Muskegon back within one. However, with 12 seconds left in the period, Austin Oravetz sent a perfect outlet dish to Riley Stuart through the neutral zone, and the captain converted to end the period at 5-3.
Dubuque added two more goals in the final frame. Nikita Borodayenko cleaned up the crumbs on an odd-man rush with Kenny Connors to extend the lead to 6-3, and Beck put the game away on a strip steal of Jacob Guévin at the defensive blue line, waltzed in and placed the puck into the net to cap the scoring.
The Saints and Jacks tied in the shot count at 35 apiece.
Philip Svedebäck earned win number four on the season with a 31-save performance in Muskegon. His best work came in the third period as he stopped 14 of 15 opportunities fired his way and kept the Jacks at that arm’s length. He has won four of his last five starts for the Fighting Saints.
Zadorozhnyy made 28 saves on 34 shots in his first USHL start for Muskegon.
The two teams will face off in a rematch on Saturday, October 30 at 7:10 p.m. local time.