OMSK, Russia – The Dubuque Fighting Saints knew what result needed to be Wednesday night in order to advance to the Junior Club World Cup Semifinals and the club executed to perfection. The Fighting Saints used a pair of goals from Alexx Privitera and Max McHugh to earn a 6-4 victory over the hometown Omsk Hawks at the Omsk Arena, stunning the near capacity crowd that had watched the Hawks outscore opponents 11-4 in their first two games. With Dubuque’s victory, the club advances to the Semifinals as the top seed from Group A, and will play Finland’s HPK Thursday at 7:00 AM Central Time. The winner advances to the Gold Medal game Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the Vitkovice Steel rallied to score a late goal to force overtime with Latvia’s HC Riga. The game ended up with HC Riga winning in a shootout, but they only received two points in the standings, meaning the only way Dubuque could advance to the semifinals was with a regulation win to earn three points, and pass HC Riga in the standings.
The Fighting Saints did just that. The team came out quick and jumped out to a 3-0 in the first period. Alexx Privitera opened the scoring on the powerplay only 5:25 into the game. Dubuque gained the zone and worked the puck back to the point. A jam play in front of the goal resulted in the puck popping high into the air and hitting a combination of Privitera’s stick and body before rolling into the net to make it 1-0.
Just over 10 minutes later, Dubuque doubled its lead. Max McHugh struck on the powerplay for the Fighting Saints. After a strong shift and sustained pressure, Dubuque’s second powerplay unit struck. A near miss sent the puck to the nearside half-boards. Jordan Klimek collected the puck and fired a cross-ice pass to McHugh who wristed a shot a shot over the glove of Omsk goalie Denis Kostin at 16:24.
Two minutes later the Fighting Saints struck again when Jacob Benson scored off a faceoff. Shane Eiserman won the draw and flipped it to Benson on the left wing. He fired a snapshot along the ice that snuck underneath Kostin and was in the back of the net in the blink of an eye. The goal game at 18:57 and ended Kostin’s night as he was removed for Denis Khramtsov with Dubuque up 3-0.
Omsk battled in the second period, getting a goal from Valery Gorshkov only :34 seconds into the middle frame to make it 3-1. However, Dubuque would bounce right back. Seamus Malone scored his second goal of the tournament on a two-on-none breakaway at 7:37 to give Dubuque its three goal lead back. Robby Darrar picked off a pass at center ice and rushed in alone on the goaltender. Malone joined down the left side, and Darrar flipped a pass over to his teammate who slid it into the open goal to make it 4-1 Dubuque.
The third period saw the Hawks scratch and claw their way back into the game. Egor Yakovlev scored to make it 4-2 only 3:28 into the third period. Again, Dubuque came right back. Andrew Gaus was credited with the goal for Dubuque, but it appeared Alexx Privitera notched his second tally of the game to make it 5-2. The veteran blueliner got the puck in the slot and outwaited Khramtsov, slipping a backhander under the sprawled goaltender at 4:59.
With a near capacity crowd in an arena that seats 10,318, the hometown Hawks were not going to go down without a fight. Valery Gorshkov scored on the powerplay for Omsk at the 12:33 make to make it 5-3. The Hawks would strike again on a tic-tac-toe passing play that was finished off by Vladimir Korolev on the backdoor to make it 5-4 at 16:30.
Dubuque’s Keegan Ford took a penalty with three minutes remaining, giving Omsk a key late powerplay with a chance to tie the game. Dubuque’s penalty kill stood tall, and McHugh iced the game with an empty net goal with only 35 second remaining to give Dubuque the 6-4 win.
Christian Frey got the win in goal for the Fighting Saints for the second straight game. He made several key stops in the third period, and finished the game with 27 saves. Omsk outshot Dubuque 31-30 in the game.
The Fighting Saints will continue play in the 2013 Junior Club World Cup Thursday when they battle HPK from Finland. The game will determine if the Fighting Saints play Saturday in the Bronze or Gold Medal game. Puck drop for tomorrow’s contest is slated for 7:00 AM Central Time and will be broadcasted live on Super Hits 106.1 FM and superhits106.com.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)