SIOUX CITY | One thing about the Dubuque Fighting Saints, they live up to their name the way they keep scratching and clawing their way back into a game.
Riese Gaber scored two goals for Dubuque, his last one coming in the third period and forcing overtime for a club that rallied from a 4-1 deficit. Ian Malcolmson also tallied two goals for the Sioux City Musketeers, which received a shootout goal from Viljami Nieminen and six shootout saves from goaltender Ben Kraws during a 5-4 United States Hockey League victory Friday night at the Tyson Events Center.
“I’ll give credit to Dubuque, they’re talented and they have stick skills galore,” said Musketeers Coach Luke Strand, whose 14-6-3 squad ended a two-game losing streak and improved their record against Eastern Conference teams to 5-1.
“They play the game the right way. They possess the puck a ton. Did we catch them in some lapses, maybe that’s how we got out in front. But they’re not going away. They keep showing up on the scoresheet. I think they’re an electric offensive team. As much as we probably had some breakdowns, I think they made some excellent hockey plays.”
En route to its sixth win in the last eight games in the recent series against Dubuque, Sioux City scored two sets of quick goals on its own. Malcolmson and Jordan Steinmetz scored goals 20 seconds apart for a 2-1 first period lead. Second-period action saw Malcolmson and Brock Baker score goals 31 seconds apart to stretch the lead by three goals and sent Dubuque goaltender Aaron Randazzo to the bench, replaced by Matthew Thiessen.
Dubuque (10-9-6), now 3-4-6 in games decided by one goal, received goals about a minute and a half apart midway through the second period from James Sanchez and Gaber. Both goals were assisted by Matias Maccelli, who went into Saturday night’s game at the Tyson Events Center riding a 13-game scoring streak.
“There were a lot of turnovers and we lost the puck,” said Finland native Nieminen. “We have to be better in the defensive zone. We allowed too many shots. They had 40 shots. That was too much.”
Gaber’s third-period goal eventually put the Fighting Saints into overtime for their third contest in a row. Combined, from the second period until the end of the seven-minute overtime session, Dubuque outshot Sioux City 29-18.
Maccelli was coming off a 1-goal, 1-assist effort in Thursday night’s 5-4 shootout loss at Sioux Falls. He was one of six Fighting Saints who failed to score in the shootout session against Kraws (12-5-3), who won his first-ever USHL shootout after losing three such chances last season.
Malcolmson, meanwhile, became the fifth Musketeer with a 2-goal game this season, joining high-scoring teammates Bobby Brink, Martin Pospisil, Marcus Kallionkieli and Parker Ford, players who have combined for 47 goals.
Friday, Malcolmson played right wing on the line occupied by left wing Kallionkieli and center Pospisil. Normally, the Northern Michigan recruit plays on a line with Baker and Sweden-native Albin Nilsson, but for the last three games, he has taken the spot of USHL scoring leader Brink (15 goals, 18 assists), who along with Ford and defenseman Luke Johnson, have been playing at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alberta.
“They are so unbelievably talented,” said Malcolmson, who entered Saturday night’s game against Dubuque with four goals and five assists. “They are two guys who are going to play in the National Hockey League someday. I’m just trying to soak it up when I have my time with them. They are great guys in the locker room and great guys on the ice.”