DUBUQUE, IA–For the second straight day the Dubuque Fighting Saints used a third period outburst to secure a victory. The Fighting Saints scored three goals in the final 20 minutes of play, and goaltender Gavin Nieto stopped 24 shots to earn a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Steel Sunday afternoon. The win capped off a four-point weekend that saw Dubuque outscore opponents 11-2.
After a scoreless first period, the game opened up in the second period. The two teams traded goals early with Dubuque getting on the board first. Nathan Sucese scored his second goal of the season at 1:30 thanks to a great setup from teammate Seamus Malone. Malone collected the puck on the right wing off a turnover, and saw Sucese wide open on the back door. Sucese fired the puck into the open net to make it 1-0 Fighting Saints.
It didn’t take long for the Steel to answer. Just 21 seconds later, Brendon Kearney’s wrist shot beat Dubuque’s Nieto over the blocker to make it 1-1. John Ernstring made the play happen with a perfect centering pass from behind the goal.
Dubuque would retake the lead later in the period on a goal from defenseman Keegan Ford. In only his second game since returning to the Fighting Saints from the NCAA, Ford struck for his first goal of the season on a screen shot from the right point. Evan Smith moved the puck back to Ford at the blue line and his shot beat a started Chicago goaltender John Lethemon to make it 2-1 Dubuque.
The Fighting Saints would never relinquish the lead. For the second straight night, Dubuque scored three goals in the third period to secure a big win. Shane Kavanagh’s scored 8:41 into the third period on the powerplay to extend the lead. Kavanagh’s goal came on a wrist shot from the point that Lethemon never saw.
Jacob Benson added his second goal in as many days, striking on a beautiful passing play at 11:57. Seamus Malone and Sucese assisted on Benson’s goal via a slapshot from the high slot.
Michael Davies would score one last Dubuque goal at the 16:42 mark from the blue line to make it 6-1. Davies shot continued the theme of wrist shots over Lethemon’s glove that came with a screen in front of the goal.
Nieto, making his first start in a month, was solid in goal, turning in his best performance of the year kicking aside 24 of 25 shots. He was named the game’s third star.
Chicago was 0-for-4 on the powerplay while Dubuque went 1-for-3 on the afternoon. Chicago outshot Dubuque 25 to 24.
Sunday’s game was Daddy Daughter Princess Day and the characters from “Frozen” were in attendance. There was a sold-out VIP Tea Party for princesses before the game that included a picture session with the Frozen characters.
Dubuque visits Bloomington on Wednesday for a New Year’s Eve game that can be heard on Super Hits 106.1 FM. The club returns home next weekend for a pair of home games, hosting rival Cedar Rapids on Friday and Waterloo on Saturday. Tickets are available to both games this weekend by calling 563.583.6880 or online at DubuqueFightingSaints.com.