Oliver David plans to stay the course after the Dubuque Fighting Saints experienced defeat for the first time in the young United States Hockey League season.
After starting the season 8-0-1, the Saints suffered their first two regulation-time defeats this weekend. And both came on goals with less than two minutes remaining.
The Fargo Force edged the Saints, 2-1, on Saturday when Aaron Grounds scored with 72 seconds remaining in the game. A night earlier, Wyatt Schingoethe gave Waterloo a 3-2 victory on a penalty shot goal with 78 seconds to play.
“We’re going to continue to do what we believe in,” said David, the Saints’ third-year head coach. “But we’ll also show some teaching video on maybe shooting opportunities or scoring opportunities and work through some of our decision making.
“We lost a couple of hockey games. It happens to everybody. There’s eight more months in the season, so there’s no reason to panic.”
On the winning goal, Grounds skated in on a 2-on-1 and took a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that handcuffed goalie Aidan McCarthy. Cedric Fiedler and Ondrej Pavel picked up assists.
The Saints opened the scoring at 10:16 of the first period. Reggie Millette sent a long cross-ice pass through the neutral zone to a streaking Tommy Middleton, who fired from the right-wing circle and squeaked a shot through goalie Cole Brady for his first USHL goal.
“It was important to get that first one after (Friday) night, because it gave us a little extra confidence,” Middleton said. “It gave us the momentum going into the intermission.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t bury enough of our chances tonight. That happens. This week, we’re going to get back to the grind. Our season’s not done by any means. We’re still having a great season. We just have to re-focus and get back to work Monday.”
Fargo tied the game 54 seconds into the second period. Nick Strom chipped the puck out of his own zone to a streaking Pavel, who won a race to the Dubuque zone before flicking a shot past a diving McCarthy for a shorthanded goal.
Dubuque outshot Fargo, 30-14, but went 0-for-3 on the power play. Fargo went 0-for-1 on the power play.