MUSKEGON, MI- Goaltender Nate Reid made 33 saves, leading Muskegon to a 5-1 victory over the Dubuque Fighting Saints Thursday night at Mercy Health Arena.
Despite a 34-22 advantage in shots on goal for Dubuque, Reid’s outstanding play made it seem like a dominating win for the Jacks, who clinch a Clark Cup Playoff berth with the win. For Muskegon, it’s the fourth-straight season they’ve clinched a spot in the playoffs.
Reid’s team staked him to an early lead when Cameron Berg beat Saints goalie Lukas Parik through the five hole on the first shot of the game. Dylan Wendt recorded the primary assist, pushing his point streak to 12 games- tied for the second-longest streak in Lumberjacks history.
Still not to the 10-minute mark, Muskegon added to the lead, making it 2-0 on a beautiful give-and-go executed by Cristophe Tellier and Quinn Hutson. Hutson buried the easy goal on the silky setup from Tellier, giving the duo 34 combined points in their last nine games.
Although Dubuque began to outshoot Muskegon in the second, it was the Jacks who extended the lead- in large part thanks to Reid, who thwarted 20 shots on goal before one finally beat him.
Muskegon got goals from Philip Tresca and Tanner Kelly to make the lead 4-0 by the seven-minute mark of the second. After Kelly’s deflection goal beat Parik on the power play, Parik was lifted from the game in favor of Hobie Hedquist.
However, the Saints got on the board late in the period when Robert Cronin notched a power-play goal on a netfront scramble, making the score 4-1.
In the third, the Dubuque upped the pressure while Muskegon settled in defensively. The Saints poured 11 shots on net, including some grade-A chances, but Reid turned all 11 away.
Late in regulation, Muskegon capped off the scoring when David Hymovitch dropped a pass to Brad Marek, who tucked the puck under the legs of Hedquist.
Muskegon was outshot in the game 34-22, but Reid’s 33 stops pushed the Jacks’ win streak to five games. Muskegon has won 15 of 17, and Reid has won 11 of his last 13.
Muskegon rematches Dubuque tomorrow in game two of this three-game set. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm.
Muskegon goals: Berg (26), Hutson (14), Tresca (4), Kelly (18), Marek (13)
Muskegon assists: Dylan Wendt (26), John Larkin (8), Tellier (28), Jacob Guevin (31,32,33), Danil Gushchin (30), Hymovitch (5)