KEARNEY, Neb. – Joel L’Esperance scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season for the Tri-City Storm (12-21-2) but it wasn’t enough as the Dubuque Fighting Saints (21-10-1) pulled out a 5-3 victory on Saturday night at the Viaero Event Center.
Storm goaltender Hayden Lavigne made 40 saves, keeping Tri-City in the game, while defenseman Garrett Cecere recorded two assists.
Chris Wilkie also scored for Tri-City, upping his point streak to five games.
Dubuque took the lead on a power play goal by Jacob Benson at 11:56 of the first period, but the Storm tied it up when L’Esperance got his first tally of the night just 46 seconds later.
Christian Horn, back in the lineup after missing three games with an injury, found L’Esperance, who drove to the net and beat Dubuque netminder Kevin Reich with a shot to the upper right hand corner. Cecere picked up the second assist on the play.
The Fighting Saints took the lead in the second on a goal by Eric Robinson, and once again the Storm responded within a minute, re-tying the game.
This time it was Patrick Curry who found Wilkie at the center of the crease for a one-timer that went under Reich. The goal was the Omaha native’s ninth of the season. Center Chase Berger was credited with the second assist.
But Dubuque scored twice more later in the middle period, getting tallies from Seamus Malone and Robby Darrar to take a 4-2 lead at the end of two.
L’Esperance scored his second of the night at 2:17 of the third period to bring Tri-City within one goal at 4-3, but Tri-City never got over the hump.
An empty net goal for Shane Eiserman with less than two minutes remaining in the game sealed the win for Dubuque.
Reich made 28 saves for the Fighting Saints, winning his second game of the season.
Dubuque outshot Tri-City 45-31.
The Storm will head to Lincoln on Tuesday night to face the Stars at 7:05 p.m. Tri-City will be back in Kearney to face the Sioux Falls Stampede next weekend Jan. 24-25. Friday night’s game will get underway at 7:30 p.m., while Saturday’s contest will start at 7:05.
Notes: The Storm scratched forwards Thomas Aldworth, Joey DiBenedetto and Nick Hutchison, along with defensemen Kevin Kerr and Cutler Martin.…
Dubuque – Jacob Benson (Robbie Darrar, Alexx Privitera) 11:56
Tri-City – Joel L’Esperance (Christian Horn, Garrett Cecere) 12:42
Dubuque – Eric Robinson (Karson Kuhlman, Dylan Gambrell) 8:37
Tri-City – Chris Wilkie (Patrick Curry, Chase Berger) 9:05
Dubuque – Seamus Malone (unassisted) 11:17
Dubuque – Robbie Darrar (Jacob Benson, Seamus Malone) 14:24
Tri-City – Joel L’Esperance (Garrett Cecere, Garrett Gamez) 2:17
Dubuque – Shane Eiserman (empty net) (unassisted) 18:21
Tri-City – Kyle Eastman – (Elbowing), 2 min, 10:53
Dubuque – Shane Eiserman – (Boarding), 2 min, 13:00
Tri-City – Jalen Schulz – (Tripping), 2 min, 15:34
Tri-City – Jalen Schulz – (Tripping), 2 min, 19:23
Dubuque – Seamus Malone – (Holding), 2 min, 4:33
Tri-City – Tory Dello – (Kneeing), 2 min, 5:58
Tri-City – Austin Poganski – (Tripping), 2 min, 7:41
Dubuque – Alexx Privitera – (Slashing), 2 min, 8:48
Dubuque – 1/5
Tri-City – 0/3
Dubuque: 18, 12, 15 = Total: 45
Tri-City: 10, 15, 6 = Total: 31
Dubuque – Kevin Reich – 28/31
Tri-City – Hayden Lavigne – 40/44