Dubuque Fighting Saints President and Head Coach Talk Upcoming Season
The 2022-23 season for the five-time Clark Cup Champion Dubuque Fighting Saints hockey team is approaching quickly. The first game — the USHL Fall Classic, set for September 24th against Des Moines — is about a month away. In addition to several new faces set to take the ice, there's the face of a new leader in the locker-room.
That face is Kirk MacDonald, who was hired by the Fighting Saints in June to be the sixth head coach of the storied organization. MacDonald and Fighting Saints President of Business Operations Robert Miller were kind enough to stop in studio today to talk about all things Saints.
We touched on the short and long-term goals for the organization, what led to MacDonald signing on with the Saints, and how the team can further its connection to the Dubuque and Tri-State area.
Very early into our conversations, one thing is clear: both MacDonald and Miller ooze passion for the sport of hockey and the Fighting Saints an organization. They recognize that some of the most talented young hockey prospects in the sport choose the USHL to grow and develop. Six players selected in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft were Saints at one time. Matthew Savoie became the highest drafted Saints alum at #9 to the Buffalo Sabres. Don't forget that former Fighting Saint Johnny Gaudreau just inked a huge deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason too.
And Miller wants to inform, or maybe remind, Tri-States residents that the pipeline from the USHL to the NHL is very real:
[We want to] really and truly get this market educated on who exactly the Fighting Saints are [....] This whole organization, top to bottom, you're talking about some of the best athletes on the planet coming in here. They're all working towards that one goal of being in professional hockey or college hockey.
Miller also the noted the amazing partnership we here at Townsquare Media Dubuque have struck with the Fighting Saints. Beginning this season, the Fighting Saints games will be broadcast on Eagle 102.3 FM. Like us here, the Saints couldn't be more excited for this opportunity!
Meanwhile, MacDonald just got into Dubuque over the weekend. Prior to accepting the job as the Fighting Saints' new HC, MacDonald served as the Head Coach of the Reading Royals of the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League). He lead the Royals to a 158-86-34 regular season record. In his six seasons as a professional hockey player, MacDonald scored 96 goals and 121 assists in 406 games.
Throughout his coaching career, MacDonald has both worked with and coached players who have come through Dubuque and seen first-hand the top-notch organization it is. When asked what attracted him to the market, MacDonald said:
Obviously the history here [and] the success the team has had [drew me here] [....] Just being familiar with the organization, I know what a great job they've done moving coaches and players on [....] Coming to a league where you're expected to be able to develop the next generation of NHL players is really exciting for me.
The Fighting Saints have a tremendous opportunity to build on their successful 2021-22 campaign, and continue to show the city of Dubuque that they're a major force on the ice and in shaping the future of the NHL. Miller is wholeheartedly committed to the process:
I think if everybody in this community really realized the dynamic product the Dubuque Fighting Saints are, this place could be packed every single night.
You can take a listen to both my interview with Fighting Saints President Robert Miller and Head Coach Kirk MacDonald below!
Robert Miller interview:
Kirk MacDonald interview: