DUBUQUE, IA — Dubuque Fighting Saints Head Coach, Jim Montgomery, has kept to his word so far. Montgomery, who will be the new University of Denver hockey coach after the conclusion of the Fighting Saints season, told the press in Denver, back on April 15th, that his first day in Denver will be “two days after (Fighting Saints) win the Clark Cup.” Coach Montgomery will have the chance to back up those words.
The Fighting Saints clinched the title of Eastern Conference Champions and advanced to the Clark Cup Final with a 4-0 win over the Youngstown Phantoms in front of a sold out crowd of 3,315 in the decisive Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals Saturday night. Dubuque scored three of their four goals in the second period, while Arthur Brey stopped all of Youngstown’s 23 shots to send the Saints to the USHL Finals for the second time in three years.
“We played Fighting Saints hockey tonight,” said Montgomery after the game. “We set the tempo from the beginning.” The Saints did just that, controlling the game from the first drop of the puck.
The Saints got on the board first at 7:38 of the second period when Jarrid Privitera knocked in a rebound past Phantoms goalie Sean Romeo for his second goal of the playoffs. Dubuque would double its lead at 12:34 of the second frame as Evan Janssen scored his first of two goals, collecting a rebound off a Joe Manno shot and stuffing the puck into the open right side of the net for his third goal of the post-season to make it 2-0 Dubuque.
With the crowd already in a frenzy, the Saints added to the lead. Just over a minute later, team captain Shane Sooth ripped a slap shot past Romeo off the assist from Frankie DiChaira for his first post-season goal since Game 2 of the Clark Cup Final in 2011. Dubuque now lead 3-0.
The Fighting Saints would add another insurance goal in the third. The Phantoms would pull their goalie with three minutes remaining and down by three looking to find some sort of offense. Dubuque would take advantage as Janssen scores his second on the night from the blue line at 17:41 to seal the deal for the Fighting Saints.
Dubuque will take on the winner of the Fargo/Sioux Falls series in the Clark Cup Final, which begins next Friday. The Fighting Saints have won four Clark Cups in team history with the most recent back in 2011 when Dubuque, then in the Western Conference, earned a 3-1 series win over the Green Bay Gamblers.
Fargo leads Sioux Falls 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals with Game 4 Sunday night at Sioux Falls. If necessary, the teams would play in a Game 5 Wednesday night at Sioux Falls.
Game 1 of the Clark Cup Final is Friday, May 10 at 7:35 p.m. at the Mystique Community Ice Center. Game 2 is the following night, Saturday, May 11 at 7:05 p.m. in Dubuque. If needed, a decisive Game 5 would be played on Tuesday, May 21 at 7:05 p.m. at the Mystique Community Ice Center.