In Dubuque's corner of the hockey world, there is Riese Gaber the 'Signature Saint' and Stephen Halliday the 'All-Time Saint'. So where does the legacy of Matt Savoie belong in this conversation?
Gaber registered a career total of 105 points in 108 games in Dubuque. It is worth noting that Gaber's Fighting Saints tenure was cut short by the COVID shut down in the second half of the 2019-20 season. When hockey resumed, Gaber was heading to North Dakota to join the NCAA ranks.
The next player to capture the hearts of Saints fans was Stephen Halliday, a teammate of Gaber's in the 2019-20 season. Halliday's ascension to 'All-Time Saint' spanned the course of three seasons, including a pandemic, and concluded with an explosive third season that saw him record 95 points in 62 games to earn his title in Dubuque hockey history.
Then somewhere among all of that is Matt Savoie. Only wearing the halo for part of one season, Savoie left fans in awe with his high level of play.
"Matt was an instant game changer when he arrived in Dubuque," Kalle Larsson, President of Hockey Operations & General Manager, said.
Savoie's abbreviated season in Dubuque was only 34 games, but that was all he needed to leave his mark on the franchise. Savoie lit the lamp 21 times and added 17 assists for 38 points. Most of the time, he did so in dominating fashion.
Savoie's talent was well on display as he continued his career with the Winnipeg Ice of the Western Hockey League in Canada. While skating for the Ice in 2021-22, Savoie recorded 35 goals and 55 assists for a 90 point season (65 games played).
"He has dominated every level he's ever played and we are excited to see him selected by the Sabres," Larsson said.
On the NHL Draft's opening night in Montreal last Thursday, Matt Savoie heard his name called by Kevyn Adams, General Manager of the Buffalo Sabres, as the 9th overall selection. Savoie's selection just inside of the top ten surpassed Zemgus Girgensons (2012, 14th overall to BUF) as the highest draft pick in Fighting Saints history.
It's difficult to put into words the impact that Savoie made in his short time with the Fighting Saints. He didn't have the laundry list of league awards or recognitions to accompany his time in Dubuque, but he didn't need those either. Savoie's time here is likely to have been a springboard to much greater accomplishments in his career. With a talent like his, the sky really is the limit.
Matt Savoie showed Dubuque what top-tier NHL talent looks like in it's purest form. That in itself is enough to endear his legacy to the city and the fans. It is players like Savoie, Gaber, and Halliday that keep Dubuque on the map as an attractive place to play junior hockey. Just ask incoming Saints Theo Wallberg and Nils Juntorp, who both heard their names called on day two of the NHL Draft.
It would not be accurate to call Savoie a trailblazer. He isn't the first Saint to be drafted and won't be the first to play in the NHL either.
Would it be fair to say Savoie's legacy in Dubuque is beyond any label? It might be...
After all, Matt Savoie truly was the Generational Saint.