DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Dubuque Fighting Saints found themselves down big early in the second period and utilized their ever-potent offense to bring the game to a 5-5 tie. However, Team USA’s Cutter Gauthier scored the game-winning goal at the 12:04 mark of the third period to put the NTDP ahead, and they completed the sweep on Saturday night at the Mystique Community Ice Center, 6-5.
Gauthier ripped a shot from the left wing circle with traffic in front of goaltender Paxton Geisel for his ninth goal against USHL competition. Frank Nazar III, the night’s first star, added the solitary assist, to go along with two goals on the night. It was just one of two credited shots on goal for Team USA in the third period.
Down 4-1 after the first period, the Fighting Saints pushed the pace to claw back in. They outshot the NTDP 23-11 through the final 40 minutes after being outshot 12-2 in the first period to get back into the game.
The league’s top power play unit began the comeback rally. Stephen Halliday threaded a pinpoint shot from the right side that cut into USA’s lead. While it was answered nearly immediately at 4-on-4 by Ryan Leonard, the Saints would score three unanswered goals.
Halliday broke up a play high in the defensive zone and wheeled a home run dish to Connor Kurth who made no mistake on the breakaway to get the game to 5-3 heading into the third period.
Kenny Connors got the fans out of their seats just 92 seconds into the third period, and Tristan Lemyre added a highlight-reel tally halfway through the period to pull the Fighting Saints even with Team USA.
The Fighting Saints got the scoring started for the second consecutive game with a goal by Max Burkholder through a massive screen in front of USA goaltender Dylan Silverstein, but the lead was short-lived, as Team USA ran roughshod the rest of the opening period.
Four of the next 12 shots found paydirt. Nazar III added a pair of goals to go along with a Cole Spicer tally within a four-minute span to erase the Saints’ lead and give USA a cushion. Rutger McGroarty added to the pain with an unassisted goal at 18:03 to give the NTDP a 4-1 lead after the first period.
The Saints are back in action at home on Saturday, January 15 against the Waterloo Black Hawks for Fighting Saints Fight Cancer Night, sponsored by Medical Associates. Tickets are available at DubuqueFightingSaints.com.