Dubuque did everything but win in their home opener against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders as the team dropped a tough decision in overtime 3-2. Despite the Saints best efforts, Blake Pietila continued his scorching start to the season, stopping 38 shots in the RoughRiders victory. Here is how things shook out on Saturday night:
-Pietila was the star, there is no doubt about that. Dubuque knew coming in that the key to victory would be to solve Pietila and they almost did enough to get the win. However, you have to tip your cap to the way the Cedar Rapids netminder has started the season. He is now 3-0-1 with a miniscule GAA and save percentage.
-Willie Knierim was a man possessed. The power forward was just that as he bullied his way around the ice. Knierim took the body, played a 200 foot game and also was able to tally his first goal of the season on a beautiful rush up the ice. Knierim was the Saints best forward during the game.
-Matthew Thiessen was once again solid in net, he just received the wrong end of the result for the second time this season. Thiessen was beaten by a few near perfect shots. The RoughRiders second goal may have been one he would like back, but nonetheless he proved himself in net.
-The Fighting Saints tallied on the power play for the second game in a row, as Patrick Smyth got his first in the USHL. Smyth used dogged work in front of the net to coral a loose puck and slip it past Pietila. The Saints were shorthanded more than they were up a man, but made the most of their power play opportunities.
-Cedar Rapids proved that they are a scrappy team, willing to get to the front of the net to win games. CR didn’t seem to have anyone who took over the game, but they continued to deploy speed and grit over the board shift after shift.
-Dubuque is now 0-4, including the preseason, when they have outshot their opponents. If the Fighting Saints can find any solace in these defeats it is that more often than not eventually the script will flip. The Fighting Saints have outshot their opponents 76-49 in the two losses this season.
-Dubuque will be back in action on the road next weekend against the Lincoln Stars and the Omaha Lancers. The Fighting Saints have only one home game remaining the rest of October, a Friday night matchup against the Youngstown Phantoms on October 19th.