GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel secured a spot in the 2019 Clark Cup Playoffs, earning an important two points by shutting down the Green Bay Gamblers Tuesday night at Resch Center in a 3-1 victory. Green Bay (15-29-6-3, 39 pts.) scored first but three unanswered goals from Chicago (32-19-2-0, 66 pts.) proved the difference as center Josiah Slavin notched a pair of tallies including the eventual game-winning goal late in the first period.
The Steel have qualified for the playoffs for the third consecutive season as they battle for playoff positioning with the top two seeds in each conference earning a first round bye.
Gamblers forward Nicholas Zabaneh tapped home his 11th goal of the season on a perfect two-on-one feed from forward Gleb Murtazin early in the game to put Green Bay on the board first. Forward Luke Mylymok made a clearing pass to Murtazin who carried into the offensive zone with speed and fed Zabaneh for the tap in past an outstretched Justin Robbins. It was the only time the Gamblers would beat Robbins in the game as he picked up his fourth win of the season over Green Bay in a 19-save performance.
The Steel answered back soon after as Slavin tucked home his 18th goal of the season and first of the game. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect received a neat backhand pass from right wing Adam Robbins and found room past Gamblers goaltender Ryan Ullan from a tight angle. Defenseman Luke Reid was credited with the secondary assist, extending his point streak to three games (0-3-3). The assist was the second for Robbins in as many games.
Slavin struck again, this time with less than three minutes to play in the first and his team on the powerplay. Defenseman Matteo Pietroniro controlled the faceoff win and shoveled the puck over to left wing Robert Mastrosimone whose heavy wrist shot from the point hit the post to Uulan’s right and bounced to Slavin at the side of the cage where he banked in a shot off the goaltender. Pietroniro and Mastrosimone picked up the assists after creating Slavin’s first goal without being rewarded on the stat sheet. Mastrosimone’s assist extended his point streak to seven games (6-3-9) while Pietroniro’s gave him seven points (3-4-7) in his last nine games.
Chicago made it 3-1 midway through the second period when right wing Mathieu De St. Phalle scored his ninth of the season on a broken play. The University of Wisconsin commit started the initial rush, a two-on-one with left wing Christian Sarlo, and eventually finished off a Sarlo shot by dragging the puck on his backhand to the slot and sliding it under a rolling Ullan. The goal was De St. Phalle’s sixth point (2-4-6) in the last six games. Center Nick Abruzzese picked up the secondary assist, after setting up the Sarlo shot, to extend his point streak to seven games (3-6-9) and move him to third all-time in Steel franchise history with 105 career points.
The Steel nearly extended their lead to three with five minutes to play in the second but a one-time slap shot from defenseman John Spetz rang off the post after a beautiful cross-ice feed from left wing Travis Treloar.
Chicago swarmed the Gamblers net throughout the third period, finishing with a 13-2 shot advantage in the frame as the Steel held on to the 3-1 win. Ullan finished the game with 33 saves on 36 shots faced.
With the victory, Chicago jumped back into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. The Clark Cup Playoffs begin April 15. Fans can reserve seats for all home playoff games through the team’s Play As We Play program by calling the Steel at 855-51-STEEL. Single-game playoff tickets will go on sale in the coming weeks.
The Chicago Steel return to Green Bay on Friday night for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. The Steel are back in front of the home crowd Sunday, March 24 for Daddy Daughter Princess Day featuring Rapunzel presented by Wausau Homes North Aurora in a 3:05 p.m. faceoff against the Lincoln Stars. Sunday’s game is a Steel Family Pack as fans can purchase four tickets, hot dogs, sodas and chuck-a-pucks starting at just $48. Fans are invited to stick around after the game to Skate with the Steel.
Tickets for all Steel home games are on sale now starting at just $10 and stadium seating on the glass is available for just $20. Parking is always free.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.