CEDAR RAPIDS, IA–For 40 minutes, Cedar Rapids goaltender Ben Blacker frustrated the Dubuque Fighting Saints offense. It took all of 39 seconds of play in the third period to change that. Blake Hillman scored early in the game’s final frame, and J.D. Dudek notched the winning goal just minutes later to earn the Dubuque Fighting Saints a 2-1 win over rival Cedar Rapids Saturday night. Dubuque earned its eighth straight victory and ended Cedar Rapids’ league best 10-game win streak in a battle of the league’s hottest teams at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Blacker was perfect through two periods of play, kicking aside 24 Dubuque shots, including 19 in a first period dominated by the visitors. The Fighting Saints entered the game’s third period trailing 1-0, but quickly evened the score. Hillman collected the puck on the right-wing half boards and stepped towards the goal. With traffic in front, Hillman’s shot beat Blacker over the catching glove to get the Fighting Saints on the board.
Three and a half minutes later, Dudek put Dubuque on top. After not playing the night before, Dudek returned to the lineup Saturday in grand fashion. The Fighting Saints pressured the front of the RoughRiders goal and a Michael Davies shot to the net was blocked. The puck bounced to the left-wing were Dudek stood uncovered. He one-timed the loose puck into the net to give Dubuque a 2-1 lead at 4:01 of the third period.
Blacker’s counterpart, Dubuque goaltender Jacob Nehama was strong as well, and while he only had to stop three shots in the third period, he made several point blank saves that preserved the win. Nehama is a perfect 10-0-0 on the season.
Cedar Rapids lone goal in the game came from defenseman Clark Kuster at 1:05 of the second period. His shot from left point hit a Dubuque defender in front of the goal and deflected past Nehama.
Dubuque outshot the RoughRiders 36-17 in the game and improved to 2-1-0 in Prairie Farms Cowbell Cup play. The Fighting Saints are now 11-3-0 on the season.
Dubuque will travel to Sioux City and Sioux Falls next weekend. Dubuque returns home on Wednesday, November 26 for the annual tradition of playing a game the night before Thanksgiving. Dubuque hosts Muskegon for a 7:35 p.m. puck drop. Tickets are on sale at DubuqueFightingSaints.com.