SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA — After Reggie Lutz’s one-timer extended the game with just 51.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Graham Lillibridge fired a game-winning shot with 0.3 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Chicago Steel (27-10-1-3, 58 pts.) to a 2-1 comeback over the Sioux Falls Stampede (16-19-2-3, 37 pts.) Saturday in front of 6,764 fans at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Ales Stezka made 25 saves, stopping all but one shot for a second consecutive night, as Chicago climbed back into sole possession of first place in the overall USHL standings.
The game was scoreless headed into the third period, with the Steel outshooting the Stampede, 19-17, through 40 minutes of play.
Stampede winger Lean Bergmann opened the scoring at the 13:08 mark of the third period, burying Alex Stevens’ rebound past the stick side of Stezka.
While Stezka started to skate to the bench for an extra attacker, Jake Jaremko skated down the ice, weaving to the left wing. The veteran center crossed a pass to the top of the right circle where Lutz blasted home a one-timer for his 17th goal of the season, recording the tying tally with under one minute remaining.
The Steel went on a power play in the closing minutes of overtime. A flurry of chances for the Steel did not connect, and the game appeared to be heading to a shootout, but Lillibridge had other plans. The Geneva, Ill., native blasted a shot from the right point that flew through traffic and bounced off Sioux Falls netminder Jeremy Swayman, slowly trickling past the goal line literally milliseconds before the buzzer.
Lillibridge’s goal was his second game-winner of the season. Lutz’s goal was his team-leading 34th point of the season, while Jaremko’s helper tied him for 7th in the league with 22 assists. Stezka’s win was his 16th of the season.
Next weekend, Chicago plays its first of two 3-in-3 weekends of the season. Following a Friday, Feb. 17 visit to Team USA (6:05 p.m. CST), the Steel will face the Muskegon Lumberjacks in a home-and-home series. Saturday, Feb. 18, the two teams battle at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, with puck drop scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CST. The following afternoon — Sunday, Feb. 19 — the Steel and the Lumberjacks rematch at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva with a 3:05 p.m. faceoff. The matinee will be highlighted by a birthday celebration for Steel mascot, Rusty, who will be joined my many of his Chicagoland mascot friends including Southpaw from the Chicago White Sox. It’s a Steel Family Pack game — purchase four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas (or waters) and four chuck-a-pucks starting at just $48. For tickets or more information, call 855-51-STEEL, stop by the Box Office at Fox Valley Ice Arena or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.
Chicago Steel 2 (OT) at Sioux Falls Stampede 1 - Status: Final OT1
Saturday, February 11, 2017 - Denny Sanford PREMIER Center
Chicago 0 0 1 1 - 2
Sioux Falls 0 0 1 0 - 1
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Novytskyy Sf (interference), 0:46; Tralmaks Chi (hooking), 14:20.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Green Chi (holding), 10:49; Bergmann Sf (roughing), 10:49.
3rd Period-1, Sioux Falls, Bergmann 5 (Stevens), 13:08. 2, Chicago, Lutz 17 (Jaremko), 19:09. Penalties-Lillibridge Chi (tripping), 3:56; Albrecht Sf (checking from behind), 4:52; Novytskyy Sf (tripping), 7:39; Lutz Chi (interference), 8:07.
1st OT Period-3, Chicago, Lillibridge 4 (McManus), 6:59. Penalties-Stevens Sf (boarding), 5:19.
Shots on Goal-Chicago 8-11-10-5-34. Sioux Falls 7-10-8-1-26.
Power Play Opportunities-Chicago 0 / 4; Sioux Falls 0 / 3.
Goalies-Chicago, Stezka 16-7-0-2 (26 shots-25 saves). Sioux Falls, Swayman 6-13-1-2 (34 shots-32 saves).
Referees-Matt Larson (13).
Linesmen-Randy Dengler (48), Rhodes Dolan (81).