GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel soared to a 6-0 win over the Youngstown Phantoms Saturday at Fox Valley Ice Arena, taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals best-of-five series. Ales Stezka denied all 40 Youngstown shots to record his fifth overall shutout of the season. The Steel went 4-for-7 on the power play, and registered a shorthanded goal as part of a 5-for-5 night on the penalty kill.
Jack Badini (2), Reggie Lutz (2), Mitch Lewandowski, and Eduards Tralmaks notched goals for Chicago, while Graham Lillibridge put up four assists.
The Steel took advantage of their first two power plays of the night when Lutz fired one-timers from the right point past Youngstown goaltender Ivan Kulbakov at 6:05 and 7:56, each off feeds from Lillibridge at the left point. Later in the period, Lutz appeared to have a power-play natural hat trick, but the goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference. Chicago brought a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, outshooting the Phantoms, 12-8.
Just 16 seconds into the second period, the lead increased to 3-0 when Badini cashed in shorthanded on Marc Johnstone’s shot, jamming a rebound off Kulbakov. The play was created by Johnstone’s steal of the puck at the blue line from Youngstown defenseman Dominic Dockery.
Chicago added two more tallies in the middle frame. Johnstone directed a pass from the corner to Lewandowski at the bottom of the right circle, and Lewandowski registered his second goal in as many nights, lighting the lamp at 12:40. Badini then picked up his second goal of the night, backhanding a Lutz rebound for a power play tally at 16:08. Kulbakov’s night came to an end after allowing five goals on 17 shots, as he was replaced in net by Britt League.
The Steel outscored Youngstown, 3-0, in the second period despite being massively outshot by the Phantoms, 19-5.
The Phantoms kept firing in but were unable to solve Stezka with any of their 13 shots in the third period. Tralmaks tapped in a left point shot from Ben Mirageas for a power play goal at 5:09, securing Chicago’s six-goal win, the largest margin of victory for the Steel this year including the regular season.
The series now shifts to Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, for Game 3, and if necessary, Game 4, on April 21-22 at 7:05 p.m. EDT/6:05 p.m. CDT. If a Game 5 is needed, the series will move back to Fox Valley Ice Arena on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:05 p.m. CDT. All games are broadcasted live on HockeyTV (video) and mixlr.com/chicago-steel (free audio). For Steel tickets or more information, call 855-51-STEEL, stop by the Box Office at Fox Valley Ice Arena or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.