Aaron Randazzo gained a measure of revenge against his former United States Hockey League organization on Tuesday night.
While wearing the same goalie mask he fashioned as a member of the Dubuque Fighting Saints two seasons ago, the Alexandria, Minn., native stopped 36 of 38 shots he faced to backstop the Green Bay Gamblers to a 6-2 victory at the Resch Center. The Gamblers improved to 6-2-1 while dropping the Saints to 1-9-0.
Randazzo went 10-8-0 with a 3.32 goals against average as Matthew Thiessen’s backup two seasons ago in Dubuque, but the Saints opted to go in a different direction and traded him to Sioux Falls during the 2019 offseason. Randazzo played for the Odessa Jackalopes and Maryland Black Bears in the North American League last season before being picked up by the Gamblers this fall.
All of the other players from Dubuque’s roster in 2018-19 have moved on to college hockey.
Despite the lopsided score, Randazzo needed to be good to win. Dubuque outshot the Gamblers, 29-11, through 40 minutes, when the outcome remained in doubt, and finished with a 38-23 edge.
Dubuque owned a 15-5 advantage in shots on goal in the first period but trailed, 1-0. The lone goal came at the 14:58 mark, when Camden Thiesing scored his third of the season on a one-timer past goaltender Hobie Hedquist. Mason Lohrei moved the puck to Cade Penny on the right wing, and Penny found Thiesing alone in the high slot.
The Gamblers doubled their lead by converting the first power play opportunity of the game at 9:07 of the second period. Lohrei found Jesse Tucker on the right wing, Tucker ripped a slap shot that appeared to be headed wide, but Jake Schmaltz tipped it past Hedquist for his sixth goal of the season.
Ryan Kirwin made it 3-0 just 3:12 later. He found the rebound of a Xan Gurney shot below the goal line and scored his first goal of the season on a wraparound. That prompted Saints coach Oliver David to pull Hedquist in favor of Aidan McCarthy.
Green Bay put the game out of reach with two goals in the first 38 seconds of the third period. Jackson Kunz scored both of them on rebounds set up by Schmaltz to stretch the lead to 5-0. Lohrei made it 6-0 at the 2:54 mark by shooting on a 2-on-1 set up by Kyler Grundy.
The Saints ended Randazzo’s shutout bid with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 10:41 of the third. Robert Cronin and Connor Kurth played catch before Cronin rifled a shot into the lower left-hand corner for his third goal of the season.
Less than 3 minutes later, Kurth shook off three defenders along the right wing, cut to the net and slipped a backhander through Randazzo’s legs for his fifth goal of the year.
Dubuque will close the month of December with five more road games, including a pair at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program this weekend in Plymouth, Mich. The Saints visit Green Bay on Dec. 26 and play at Muskegon on Dec. 29-30.