OMSK, Russia – A night after earning a victory over the hometown Omsk Hawks, the Dubuque Fighting Saints came up just short of advancing to gold medal game of the 2013 Junior Club World Cup.
Dubuque fell by a score of 3-2 to Finland’s HPK Hameenlinna in the tournament’s Semifinals at the Omsk Arena on Thursday, meaning the team will now play Belarus’ Dynamo-Shinnik on Saturday for the bronze medal, while HPK will play the Omsk Hawks for a chance at the gold medal later that night.
Dubuque’s first period was filled with minor penalties and the frame’s lone goal came from HPK on the man advantage. HPK’s Santeri Vuoti walked off the left side half-boards and wristed a shot under goaltender Christian Frey’s blocker to make it 1-0 at 9:09.
The second period had much more of a flow to it as no penalties were assessed. Dubuque found themselves down by a pair of goals when HPK got a tally from Eetu Ville Arkiomaa at 3:20 to make it 2-0. The Fighting Saints had several chances to cut the lead to one, including a wrister from the blueline from Blake Hillman that rang the right post.
HPK would add to its lead with a goal on a goal from Patrik Virta at 16:32 of the second period. A miscommunication resulted in the puck deflecting off a stick towards Frey, but before the Dubuque goaltender could reach the puck, Vitra swept in underneath him to make it 3-0 HPK.
The Fighting Saints were determined to not take a three-goal deficit into the game’s final frame. Dubuque finally connected on the scoreboard thanks to a beautiful passing play from Andrew Gaus. The Dubuque forward fought through a hook from a HPK defender, and eluded another, before sliding a pass across to Dylan Gambrell on the right side of the crease. Gambrell fired the puck into the open goal to cut the lead to 3-1 at 17:35.
Dubuque carried over the momentum from the late period tally into the game’s third frame and pushed HPK with a valiant comeback attempt. Dubuque struck again, and this time it was Gaus who the recipient of a fantastic setup. Shane Eiserman used his large frame to push into the zone down the left wing side. Eiserman took the puck wide, before cutting back to the middle of the ice and sliding the puck past a defender over to Gaus who fired a one-timer past HPK netminder Joonas Toivonen to make the game 3-2 HPK just under three minutes into the period.
Dubuque would outshoot HPK 12-6 in the third period, and the Fighting Saints were awarded a late powerplay with three minutes remaining, but were unable to convert. Dubuque took its timeout with 44 seconds left and pulled goaltender Frey, and had several chances late, but ultimately HPK held on for the win. Dubuque outshot HPK 24-20.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)