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USHL: Ice Take 2-0 Lead Over Saints

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- Jacob Benson scored twice for Dubuque, but the Fighting Saints late comeback attempt fell short Saturday night. The Indiana Ice earned a 3-2 victory at the Pam Am Pavilion, and took a 2-0 series lead in Eastern Conference Finals. The series shifts back to Dubuque next week, with a must-win Game 3 on Friday, May 2 at the Mystique Community Ice Center.

Indiana was able to continue the momentum from Friday nights victory into Saturdays contest. The Ice scored a pair of first period goals to quickly jump in front of the Fighting Saints. Sam Kurker, a late addition to the Indiana lineup, opened the scoring at 8:06 of the opening period. The puck was deflected back to Indianas Mike Preston at the right point. He flipped a pass across to Austin Kosack at the left point. The defender fired a wrist shot through traffic that was turned aside by the toe of Dubuque netminder Kevin Reich. The rebound sat loose in the slot and Kurker pounced on the loose puck, striking for his second goal of the post-season to make it 1-0.

Indiana added to its lead just over three minutes later on an odd-man chance. Dubuque got caught in the neutral zone and Scott Conway brought the puck in over the blue line on a two-on-one rush. Keegan Ford defended the pass, but Conway slipped it across to Denis Smirnov. He made a great move, sliding a shot underneath Reichs pad to make it 2-0 Indiana at 11:37.

In the second period, Dubuque turned its game up a notch and outshot the Ice 11-6 in the games middle frame. The Fighting Saints work finally paid off late in the period on the powerplay. Robby Darrar received a pass at the right point and left it for Seamus Malone. The Dubuque sniper walked the blue line and fired a wrist shot that Pawloski stopped with his left pad.  Benson was first to the rebound, and deposited a shot over Pawloski for his second goal of the playoff to make it 2-1 Indiana with only 1:12 left in the period.

Early in the third period, Indianas Conway scored the eventual game-winning goal. A tuck attempt was shot towards the Dubuque net. Reich appeared to have the puck covered underneath his pad, but the referee allowed play to continue. Conway dug at Reichs pad, and knocked the puck over goal line. Dubuque protested that the whistle should have gone due to Reich having the puck covered, but the goal stood, and Indiana took a 3-1 lead at the 1:25 mark. 

Dubuque continued to press, and Reich made several strong saves to keep it a two-goal game. Late in the third period, Dubuque pulled Reich for an extra attacker and Benson struck again. Malone threw the puck from behind the net to Benson in the low slot. He roofed a shot over Pawloski for his second goal of the game to make it 3-2 Indiana at 17:39.

Dubuque was awarded a late powerplay, but Pawloski kept Dubuque off the board to preserve the win. Indiana outshot Dubuque 32-28 in the victory. Pawloski stopped 26 shots and was the games first star.

Dubuque returns home to the Mystique Community Ice Center for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) of the best-of-five series on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3. Fridays Game 3 is a Telegraph Herald Family Four Pack night. The package includes 4 tickets, 4 slices of Domino's Pizza, 4 sodas and 2 Kids Zone vouchers starting at just $48 when purchased in advance.

Both games will feature another special offer. All fans 18 and over who purchase tickets to either Eastern Conference Finals game will receive a 50/50 raffle ticket for each ticket purchased. The raffle tickets will give Fighting Saints fans the opportunity to win a cash prize in the nightly drawing, which will be held during both games. This offer is valid for full-price tickets purchased in person at the Fighting Saints box office and cannot be combined with any other offer. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Northern Lights Hockey Foundation.

Both Games 3 and 4 will also be College Nights. With a valid college ID, students can score a special deal that includes an end section ticket and $5 in Saints Bucks, good for concessions or merchandise, for just $10.Tickets for both games are available now at the Fighting Saints Box Office at the Mystique Community Ice Center, online at or by calling 563.583.6880.
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