Robert Cronin scored a pair of goals and came within an eyelash of an empty netter that would have completed a hat trick as the Dubuque Fighting Saints held off arch rival Waterloo, 5-3, on Saturday night at Mystique Community Ice Center.

The Saints earned their first victory of the season after starting 0-5-0 while battling COVID-19 interruptions to the schedule.

Ian Pierce opened the scoring 6:37 into the game when his shot from the right point found its way through traffic and past goalie Jack Williams. P.J. Fletcher won a faceoff back to Pierce, who scored the first goal of his two-year USHL career.


Just 73 seconds later, Fletcher scored a goal of his own to double the Dubuque advantage. He took a Connor Kurth feed on the right wing and wired a shot past Williams for his first goal of the season.

Cronin made it 3-0 with his first goal of the season at the 8:22 mark of the period. He scored from the doorstep after Daniyal Dzhaniyev worked the puck to the net front.

Owen Ozar pulled the Black Hawks within 3-2 by scoring the next two goals of the game. He potted an unassisted goal at 9:28 of the first period and added a power play marker 41 seconds into the third.

But Cronin answered with the eventual game-winning goal 4:02 after Ozar’s second goal. Cronin capitalized on a fortunate bounce to beat back-up goalie Charlie Glockner from the doorstep. Dzhaniyev picked up his second assist of the night.

Max Montes gave the Saints a little breathing room with his second goal of the season at 6:58 of the third. He created a turnover and scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway to make it 5-2.

John Waldron gave Waterloo life by scoring with 3:46 remaining in regulation, but the Black Hawks couldn’t complete the comeback.

Aidan McCarthy made 27 saves to earn his first victory of the season. Williams allowed six goals on nine shots, and Glockner turned aside 16 of the 18 he faced.

Waterloo went 1-for-4 on the power play, and the Saints did not convert any of their four chances with the man advantage.