DUBUQUE, IA–The Dubuque Fighting Saints earned a victory both on and off the ice Saturday. On the ice, Dubuque forward Willie Knierim picked a great time to score his first USHL goal. The 16-year-old forward deflected a Brett Boeing shot for the game-winning strike at the 13:05 mark of the 3rd Period to earn the Dubuque Fighting Saints a 4-2 win over the Madison Capitols Saturday night at the Mystique Community. Dubuque also got two points from veteran forward Dylan Gambrell and goaltender Jacob Nehama kicked aside 27 shots to improve the Fighting Saints to 5-3-0 on the season. Off the ice, the Fighting Saints hosted the 5th Annual Pink the Rink presented by the Finley Health Foundation and the Wendt Cancer Center to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.
During Saturday’s game, Dubuque would eventually take the lead on a pair of third period goals, but it was Madison who got a pair of goals from defenseman in the game’s opening period to give the Capitols a one-goal lead through the first 20 minutes. Daniel Willett opened the scoring 4:11 into the game off a faceoff win by Chad Pietroniro. The puck came back to the point and Willett’s rising shot beat Dubuque goaltender Jacob Nehama over the glove to make it 1-0 Capitols.
Dubuque would respond just under six minutes later on Mitchell Smith’s 2nd goal of the season. Dylan Gambrell left the puck to Mitchell Smith in neutral ice. The forward raced down the middle of the ice and with pressure on his back, he cut to the left wing and fired a wrist shot that beat Capitols’ goaltender Darren Smith shortside. Gambrell and Andrew Kerr assisted on the tally at 11:05.
The Capitols retook the lead at 17:14 of the opening period on a goal by defenseman Mason Anderson. The former Fighting Saint converted on the powerplay, blasting a slapshot from the right side that beat Nehama upstairs to make it 2-1 Madison.
The Fighting Saints notched the lone goal of the game’s middle period courtesy of third year forward Dylan Gambrell. Sasha Larocque sprung the Denver commit on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box courtesy of a beautiful stretch pass. The defender fired a pass to Gambrell at the far blue line and the forward streaked in on a breakaway. Gambrell skated in on goal and lifted a shot up over the glove of Smith to make it 2-2 at 11:13.
The two teams entered the third period deadlocked and it was Knierim who proved to be the hero. Dubuque’s powerplay had come up empty on its first five tries, but on its sixth attempt, finally converted. Brett Boeing worked the puck on the right wing towards the goal. His wristshot was tipped by Knierim’s stick past goaltender Darren Smith’s blocker to give the Fighting Saints a 3-2 lead with seven minutes remaining.
The Capitols were given a late powerplay, but Dubuque was able to shut the door, and J.D. Dudek scored an empty net goal to make it 4-2 and give the Fighting Saints the win.
Nehama improved to 5-0-0 for Dubuque on the season. Dubuque outshot the Capitols 43-25 in the win.
Saturday’s festivities saw the Fighting Saints wear pink accented jerseys that were auctioned off following the game with all proceeds benefiting the fight against breast cancer through the Wendt Cancer Center and the Visiting Nurse Association. Forward Evan Smith’s jersey raised a team high $1,125. Caregivers from UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital were also on hand and fans decorated pink ribbons to honor those in their lives impacted by breast cancer.
The Fighting Saints are at home for a pair of games against the Fargo Force next weekend. Tickets are on sale by calling 563.583.6880 or online at DubuqueFightingSaints.com.