GENEVA. Ill. — Bend, but not break. The Dubuque Fighting Saints found themselves in a situation very similar to Game 1, but this time, they found a way to hold on in Game 2, as they topped the Chicago Steel 3-1 on Saturday night at the Fox Valley Ice Arena. The Eastern Conference Final is now tied at one apiece heading back to Dubuque for the next two games of the series.
Jaxon Castor stopped 34 shots fired his way in the win, and was routinely exceptional. His best work came in the first period, as a bouncing puck fluttered around the blue paint, Castor stayed poised and stopped Johnny Walker twice on the back door, and kept the game scoreless. He would only allow a goal to Eduards Tralmaks, however the Saints were up 3-0 at that point.
It was Castor’s fourth playoff win of his career.
The Saints got on the scoreboard first, and remained perfect when scoring the first goal in a game so far this postseason. An offensive zone faceoff win by Cole Guttman set up Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi at the point, and his floater shot evaded the entire Steel defense and fooled Chicago Steel goaltender Ales Stezka, and put the Saints up by one halfway through regulation.
It took eight more minutes for the Saints to tack on again, and they would be the first team to dent Chicago’s previously perfect penalty kill. Mitch Lewandowski and Jason O’Neill were sent to the box within 30 seconds of one another, setting up a 5-on-3 power play chance. Zach Solow set up Patrick Kudla for a one-timer from the top that was a no-doubter, and it put the Fighting Saints up 2-0.
Austin Rueschhoff capped the scoring for the Saints well into the third period with the assist from linemate Keenan Suthers. Tralmaks’ goal came just under a minute after that, but the Saints did not allow another goal. The Steel outshot the Saints 12-8 in the third, but it was the Saints who fired 16 shots on goal in the second period, which is where they scored two of their three goals on the night.
Chicago’s potent power play was given three chances, but they were unable to score.
The series returns back to Dubuque on Friday, May 5 at 7:35 p.m. The first 1,500 fans will receive a foam goalie glove giveaway thanks to Dubuque Fire Equipment. Also on tap is the 4 Pack and a Pizza Deal, as fans can get four tickets and a large Papa John’s pizza starting at just $48. Additionally, it’s a College Night, as college students with a valid ID can get an attack zone ticket plus $5.00 in Saints Bucks for $10.00. For tickets, call the box office at 563.583.6880, or go to DubuqueFightingSaints.com.