Round 1 in this battle of United States Hockey League heavyweights went to the Waterloo Black Hawks.
Wyatt Schingoethe scored on a penalty shot with 1:18 remaining in regulation to lift Waterloo to a 3-2 victory over Dubuque at Mystique Community Ice Center.
Waterloo (9-2-1) leads the Western Conference, and Dubuque (8-1-1) entered Friday night atop the Eastern Conference standings.
“This game was a lot of fun to play, but it obviously didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” said Saints forward Dylan Jackson, who scored both of his team’s goals. “The crowd was great, and Waterloo was a good challenge for us. They fought back really well. Give them credit.
“We just have to learn from our mistakes and face adversity better the next time. It’s our first loss, including preseason, so we have to learn how to take a loss and bounce back. We have no other choice. It’s tough to not get the two points, because I thought we should have had this one.”
With Dubuque enjoying a late power play, Dubuque defenseman Wyatt Kaiser tripped Dane Montgomery on a shorthanded breakaway, resulting in the penalty shot for Schingoethe. He squeaked a shot past Saints goalie Erik Portillo.
“It’s an unfortunate game to lose, because we played so well and it was decided on a play like that,” Saints coach Oliver David said. “From our angle, it looked like we got all of the puck before the guy went down.”
Fitting for a game featuring the top two defenses in the USHL, neither team found the back of the net in the opening period. Dubuque finished with an 11-9 edge in shots on goal, and both teams enjoyed one power play.
Waterloo came within a whisker of opening the scoring late in its power play. With the puck laying in the blue paint and Portillo slightly out of position, Schingoethe tried to poke a shot into an open net. But Portillo recovered and punched the puck to safety.
The Saints needed just 1:17 to open the scoring in the second stanza, after Ben Schultheis created an odd-man rush with a thunderous hit on Waterloo’s Ryder Rolston. Dylan Jackson sprinted from the neutral zone to the Waterloo net and scored after his backhand shot hit the inside of the left goal post behind goalie Gabriel Carriere. Matthew Kopperud picked up the lone assist on the play for chipping the puck out of his own end and setting up Dylan Jackson’s fifth goal of the year.
Waterloo pulled even just 2:04 later. Ryan Drkulec took a backhand shot from the right faceoff circle and it deflected off a Dubuque body and past Portillo.
Dylan Jackson scored his second go-ahead goal of the night at the 9:00 mark of the second period. A nifty tic-tac-toe passing sequence ended with a Waterloo defender disrupting the play. But, the puck deflected to the blue paint and Dylan Jackson jammed it home. Ty Jackson and Kopperud picked up assists on Dylan Jackson’s sixth goal of the season.
Waterloo tied the game after another fortunate bounce. Xander Lamppa jumped on a deflected puck and wired a shot just under the crossbar to make it 2-2 at 2:19 of the third.
The Saints play host to the rival Fargo Force at 7:05 tonight.