Alexx Privitera and Max McHugh each scored a pair of goals to help the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League to a 6-4 victory against the hometown Omsk (Russia) Hawks on Wednesday in the Junior Club World Cup tournament at Omsk Arena.
The victory enables the Fighting Saints (2-1-0) to advance to the tournament semifinals Thursday, where they will play Finnish club HPK as the top seed from the Group A bracket. Omsk (2-1-0) also advanced to the semifinals.
The gold-medal game is scheduled for Saturday at Omsk Arena.
The Fighting Saints took a 3-0 lead in the first period on power-play goals by Privitera at 5:25 and McHugh at 16:24. The lead was extended to three a little more than two minutes later when Jacob Benson's snap shot along the ice beat Omsk goalie Denis Kostin. That was the end of the night for Kostin, who was replaced by backup Denis Khramtsov.
"We felt before the game like we could do some things against them since they got out early every game," Dubuque coach Matt Shaw told the USHL website. "We felt it was important to challenge them early and give them some adversity to deal with. They came back strong but we played well in the end."
Omsk pulled within 3-1 34 seconds into the second period, but Dubuque regained its three-goal edge at 7:37 when Seamus Malone, a top prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft, scored his second goal of the tournament when he finished a 2-on-none breakout with Robert Darrar. Darrar intercepted a pass at center ice to begin the transition with Malone.
The teams combined for five goals in the third period. Yegor Yakovlev scored 3:28 into the third for Omsk, but Privitera answered with his second of the game a little more than a minute later to give Dubuque a 5-2 advantage. Valeri Gorshkov's power-play goal at 12:33 got Omsk within 5-3, and 3:57 later Vladimir Korolev's goal made the score 5-4.
"We knew we had to win to advance and we wanted to finish first in our bracket," Privitera said. "We must have blocked about 20 shots tonight. We were hitting people and playing through injuries; it was a great team effort. It was certainly one of the bigger wins of my hockey career so far."
Omsk had a chance to tie the game after Dubuque's Keegan Ford was sent off, but goalie Christian Frey helped the Fighting Saints kill off the penalty, and McHugh closed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 35 seconds remaining.
"I had chills after that win; it was a loud crowd but we held it together when they started to come back and got the win," McHugh said. "It was a big relief to get that empty-net goal to seal the deal. Then to hear the national anthem played at the end of the game was just one of the best feelings I've ever had. I'll remember that for the rest of my life."
Frey, who made several key stops in the third period, finished the game with 27 saves. Omsk outshot Dubuque 31-30.