Before the Saints left Dubuque, Theodore J. SCHERR and others had the Saints replacement, the Dubuque ThunderBirds. In 2002 the ThunderBirds reestablished junior hockey in Dubuque as a member of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League. Attendance records of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League were shattered by the ThunderBirds in their first two years by averaging 1,500 fans per game. Scherr and Ken Gaber served as co-general managers until Gaber became president of the MJHL and moved to the Twin Cities. The ThunderBirds moved to the Central States Hockey League in 2006-2007.
On November 19, 2009, Dubuque officially returned to the United States Hockey League. The team was scheduled to play at the Mystique Ice Center, a 3,200-seat arena scheduled to open on CHAPLAIN SCHMITT ISLAND. On January 24, 2010 the TELEGRAPH HERALD carried an article that the team would be renamed the Fighting Saints.
The last game of the Dubuque Thunderbirds at the FIVE FLAGS CENTER was held on March 13, 2010. As a CSHL team, the Thunderbirds went 97-1-1-1 at home.