GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The 2017 Clark Cup Champion Chicago Steel announced Thursday their opening night roster and captains for the 2017-2018 USHL season. The Steel return eight skaters from last season’s championship roster, plus four other players who have previously competed in regular season games for the Steel. Veteran defenseman Derek Daschke was selected as team captain.
"We're very excited about the leadership group we'll have in place this season,” said Steel Head Coach Mark Abalan. “Derek Daschke has all the tools necessary to be a great captain and truly understands the culture of excellence that now exists at the Steel - a culture he has certainly added to and augmented during his time here. He was a unanimous choice to don the `C' this season, both by his teammates and by the coaching staff, and we are supremely confident in his ability to lead this group to a successful season.”
In addition to Daschke being named team captain, Tyler Gratton, Graham Lillibridge, Matteo Pietroniro and Baker Shore have been selected as alternate captains. Gratton and Lillibridge will wear the ‘A’ at home, while Pietroniro and Shore will do so on the road.
“Our alternate captains are all high-character young men with a team-first mentality,” continued Abalan. “They are a big part of our tremendous leadership group that will be the driving force in determining the level of success we achieve in what promises to be a memorable season."
The opening night roster features 21 players committed to NCAA Division I schools. Two Steel players were selected at the 2017 NHL Draft: Jack Dugan (Vegas Golden Knights – 5th round/142nd overall) and Robbie Stucker (Columbus Blue Jackets – 7th round/210th overall). Additionally, returning forward Blake McLaughlin was named this week to NHL Central Scouting’s Preliminary Players to Watch List, given a ‘B’ Rating as a 2nd/3rd round candidate for the 2018 NHL Draft.
The Steel will host a pre-game Championship Celebration at the team’s 2017-2018 home opener this Saturday, Oct. 7 at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Following a ring ceremony and banner unveiling, the Steel will drop the puck for the first of 30 home games in the 2017-2018 USHL season, facing off against Team USA (U17) at 7:05 p.m. CT. Following the game, fans are invited to join the team on the ice for a post-game Skate with the Steel.
The Steel won their first championship in team history on Tuesday, May 23 with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory at the Sioux City Musketeers in Game 5 of the 2017 Clark Cup Final at Tyson Events Center. Gratton scored the Cup-clinching goal 11:30 into overtime to conclude the best-of-five championship series.
The pre-game ceremony will begin at approximately 7:00 p.m. with returning players and hockey staff from last year's team receiving their championship rings at center ice. Following the ring ceremony, the Steel will unveil the 2016-2017 Eastern Conference Championship banner and the 2016-2017 Clark Cup Championship banner, marking the first of each for the organization. Throughout the night, various activities will take place to celebrate the championship, including video messages from players on the championship team, as well as an opportunity for fans to take pictures with the Clark Cup.
The post-game Skate with the Steel includes an opportunity for fans to skate alongside Steel players and get autographs from the entire team. Fans are welcome to bring their own skates, or they will be available for rental from the Fox Valley Ice Arena for $4.
Tickets for the home opener start at just $10 when purchased in advance and parking is free.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 855-51-STEEL, stop by the Box Office at Fox Valley Ice Arena or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.