DUBUQUE, Iowa — 14 Dubuque Fighting Saints players notched a point, Nikita Borodayenko scored a hat trick, Stephen Halliday tied Seamus Malone for second in points by a Fighting Saint in the Tier I era, and Paxton Geisel posted his first career USHL shutout in an eventful tussle on Wednesday night. The Saints broke the game wide open with five goals in the second period and blanked the visiting Waterloo Black Hawks 8-0 at the Mystique Community Ice Center.
Dubuque scored eight goals on 17 shots heading into the third period and never looked back as they put up a season-high eight goals in the victory. It beat the previous mark of seven, in which the league’s leading offense put up on four different occasions in the 26 prior games.
The second period turned the tide of the game. Geisel held Waterloo at bay while the offense did the work. Borodayenko scored his second goal of the night wide open at the goal mouth about five minutes into the second period, and Mikey DeAngelo further deepened the lead just a minute and two seconds later with a dazzling individual effort.
While the offense went quiet for nine minutes, it revved back up to speed for three goals in less than two minutes of elapsed game time. Burchill scored off the wing at 14:44 to extend the lead to 5-0. Then, as Stephen Halliday worked the puck to Max Burkholder, who gave Borodayenko his hat trick on a seam pass, Halliday tied Malone for the mark with 131 points. Next on the list is Shane Sooth, who scored 144 points in his Fighting Saints career. The hat trick goal spelled the end of the night for Waterloo starter Emmett Croteau, and it brought Jack Williams into the game.
Williams was welcomed immediately to the game with a goal on the first shot he faced. Max Montes capped the scoring at 16:28 on a pass from Riley Stuart with Lucas Ölvestad in the box for interference. The Fighting Saints were the last team in the USHL to score a shorthanded goal heading into the game, but Montes’ goal counted as the first shorthanded goal for the Saints this season.
Dubuque entered the evening with a 10-2-1 mark when scoring the first goal. While Waterloo posted three grade-A scoring chances in the opening five minutes of the game, the Fighting Saints regained traction in the game by capitalizing on their scoring opportunities. Kenny Connors opened the scoring, and subsequently scored the game-winning goal, at the 11:10 mark of the first period, with a silky-smooth backhand deke on a stretch pass from Samuel Sjölund.
Stuart continued the momentum swing further in Dubuque’s court with a wrist shot from the high slot that deflected off Black Hawks forward John Waldron in front of the Hawks net. Borodayenko scored his first of the night less than three minutes later just as a Waterloo penalty expired on a tic-tac-toe triangular passing play in the blue paint on assists from Ryan Beck and Halliday.
The Fighting Saints have won 10 of the last 12 games, which puts them three points back of the Chicago Steel for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Geisel won his tenth start in eleven tries with his 12th win of the season. He sits two wins back of Tri-City Storm goaltender Arsenii Sergeev for the top spot in the USHL (14).
The win tied the Fighting Saints with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders for the top spot in the Dupaco Cowbell Cup standings with four points apiece.
Dubuque rings in the new year with a Sunday matinée with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at 3:05 p.m. on January 2.