In a season that’s been defined by highs and lows, the Green Bay Gamblers authored the next chapter of their rollercoaster 2013-2014 season Sunday afternoon, defeating the Dubuque Fighting Saints by a 7-2 mark in front of 4,477 Resch Center fans on ‘School is Cool’ day at the Resch Center.
The victory dissolved the Gamblers’ brief three-game losing skid, improved their season record to 20-15-6 through 41 games and gave the team three (out of six potential) points in three home games this weekend. Green Bay now owns 46 team points this season, good enough for fourth place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
Gamblers head coach Derek Lalonde said it felt good to get on the winning side of things to finish out the weekend, but stressed that ascribing emotion to wins and losses isn’t as important as his team’s on-ice performance.
“We talk about judging our play on our play” Lalonde said after the win. “We were good in all three (weekend) games. Last night (Saturday) was really frustrating because we play well Friday, we play well Saturday and we come out with just one point. I told our guys to stay on task; keep doing things right. The puck simply wasn’t going in the net for us. It went in for us tonight.”
Four different Gamblers tallied goals in the game, including Matt Weis, who tallied his fourteenth and fifteenth scores of the season, Connor Hurley, Dawson Cook and Kevin Irwin. Nick Schmaltz chipped in offensively with four assists while Ryan Lough and Evan Tironese contributed with two dimes of their own.
Brent Gates Jr. had arguably the best night of any Green Bay player offensively, however, notching his ninth and tenth goals of the season in the affair to go with his third assists of the season. It was the first time the 16-year-old Notre Dame commit posted multiple goals in a single game in his brief USHL career.
“It was pretty cool,” Gates Jr. said. “I just tried to work hard and go to the net. They were both kind of greasy goals; they weren’t very skilled. But I guess when you do the right things, you get rewarded.”
Jared Rutledge saved all but two of Dubuque’s 25 shots against him — stymieing two three-on-five Dubuque power plays early on – and again put the Gamblers in position to be aggressive offensively.
“I think the key was the three-on-fives – he made a couple saves and they had a couple picked that they just missed,” Lalonde said. “Getting through that and scoring, especially when we’re a little fragile right now. He was really good for us.”
With a lopsided victory over Dubuque in hand, the Gamblers will look to build off their momentum on the road against the Fighting Saints Thursday night before traveling to Sioux Falls for a weekend series with the Stampede.