Putting shots on goal has not been a problem for the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Putting them in the goal is a different story.
In desperate need of a score Saturday night in Waterloo, the Fighting Saints turned to a reliable source.
Team captain Cole Guttman’s tally in the third period was the only goal of the game in Dubuque’s first win of the United States Hockey League season and the first under new coach Oliver David.
“It was really exciting to get the first win,” Guttman said after the team improved to 1-2-1. “I really don’t think we did anything different.
“I think we’ve actually outplayed our opponents; it’s just the fact of putting it in the back of the net and finishing our opportunities. That’s been our biggest problem so far. We’re a little bit snake-bit.”
The Fighting Saints had managed only one goal on 83 shots in the previous 10 periods when Guttman scored on the power play.
“We were working the puck down low and [Chayse] Primeau won a battle,” Guttman said. “He gave it over to [Alexander] Steeves, then Steeves made a nice pass to [Jonatan] Asplund at the point.”
Asplund spotted Guttman at the hash mark on the inside of the circle to the left of the net.
“He gave me a nice pass,” Guttman said. “I just took a one-timer. It was a little bit of a flutter shot but it rainbowed over the goalie’s blocker into the top of the net.”
When looking for scoring, Guttman is a good place to start.
The 18-year-old center was No. 2 in the league among rookie scorers a year ago. After playing briefly with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and Dubuque in the USHL during the 2015-16 season, Guttman made the Fighting Saints out of training camp. He scored 27 goals and assisted on 26 more.
Guttman, a St. Cloud State University prospect, was selected in the National Hockey League Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 5-foot-10, 171-pound forward said he plans to stick with his original plan of completing a second full season of juniors and beginning his college career in the 2018-19 season. He took the fast track to the USHL from his early days in Southern California.
“My grandparents grew up in Canada, so they knew a little bit about hockey from there,” Guttman said. “When my dad was growing up, he played a little bit in Los Angeles as well, but it wasn’t as popular back then.
“He’s always been a fan growing up, so he put me on the ice.
Guttman also played youth baseball and basketball, but “fell in love with hockey right away.”
After being introduced to hockey as a 6-year-old, Guttman began moving up the ranks in California, eventually playing with the L.A. Selects program.
As a relatively small forward, Guttman said he is constantly working on getting bigger and stronger in order to keep producing as he climbs to higher levels of hockey. That off-ice work coincides with his concentration in further developing on-ice skills.
“There’s always improvement for my shot and my speed,” Guttman said. “My speed, especially, that happens from getting bigger and stronger in the gym. Just having a more powerful stride up and down the ice can always be a benefit at the next level.
“And, with your shot, changing direction so the goalie has to move and just getting it off quicker is always important.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.