GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel are preparing for a pair of home games this weekend as the team jostles for playoff position during a busy three-game week. Friday, March 29 is Pucks and Pups night presented by Woofbeach where fans are invited to bring their dogs to the game and Saturday, March 30 is an Animal House anniversary celebration presented by Waubonsee Community College with a “College” t-shirt giveaway for the first 500 fans in attendance. Friday night is also the final Raising Cane’s Kids Day of the season where fans 12 and under can receive a Red Zone ticket, Steel drawstring backpack and Raising Cane’s combo card all for $10.
Pucks and Pups night will feature dog-related entertainment throughout the game including Musical Sit, a Dog/Owner Eating Contest and a Doggy Dance Party with the Steel’s very own mascot dog, Rusty! The Steel have set up a special section for fans bringing their dogs to the game for the rare opportunity to enjoy a sporting event with a four-legged friend.
On Saturday, fans can break out their Togas as the Steel celebrate Animal House with a Toga Dance Party set to the Isley Brothers “Shout” and a timely Celebrity Get Into College Relay Race. The “College” t-shirt giveaway is modeled after the shirt worn by John Belushi’s character Bluto from the classic 1978 film.
Friday night’s game, a 7:05 pm. puck drop is the final meeting of the season against the Madison Capitols (13-37-4-2, 32 pts.) as the Steel look to sweep the season series having won the first four matchups. The last (and only) time the teams met at Fox Valley Ice Arena the Steel cruised to a 7-1 win on January 4 as forward Robert Mastrosimone led the way with three points (1-2-3) and forward Nick Abruzzese (2-0-2) scored a pair of goals. In four games against the Capitols, forward Adam Robbins has paced the offense with seven points (3-4-7), including three multi-point games.
Madison has been led by forward Chaz Smedsrud who has three points (3-0-3) against Chicago this season. Forward Chase Brand leads the Capitols with 45 points (14-31-45), including an assist against Chicago. Smedsrud and Brand will have to contend with a lethal pair of Chicago netminders. Justin Robbins holds a 3-0-0-0 record this season against Madison with a .933 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average. Reilly Herbst appeared in the lone home game picking up the win and saving 22 saves on 23 shots.
Saturday night will be the second of three meetings against the Western Conference Waterloo Black Hawks (34-14-5-2, 75 pts.). The teams will meet twice in seven days after the first meeting of the season came back on November 9 in a 4-2 Waterloo win. The Black Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first two periods but a pair of early third period goals from the Steel made things interesting before an empty net goal from Waterloo in the final minute sealed the win. All six combined goals came from different skaters as Steel forward Neil Shea got Chicago on the board before assisting on an Adam Robbins goal moments later.
Forward Emil Öhrvall leads his team this season with 58 points (30-28-58) and was able to find the back of the net in the prior meeting with Chicago. Rookie Waterloo goaltender Logan Stein picked up the win as he stopped 24 of 26 shots against while Herbst was saddled with the loss despite making 20 saves on 23 shots. Stein, a Ferris State University commit, appeared at the 2019 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in December where he made 12 saves.
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.
The week begins with a pivotal Wednesday night showdown in Cedar Rapids, Iowa against the RoughRiders (31-19-3-2, 67 pts.). Chicago enters Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. puck drop with a three-point lead on Cedar Rapids, who is tied with the Youngstown Phantoms for third in the Eastern Conference. This is the final meeting of the season between the teams and the first time they’ve squared off since December 4. Chicago leads the season series 3-1-0-0 this season. Wednesday night will be the second time the teams meet at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena after a 4-3 overtime thriller in which the Steel came out on top back on October 27. Mastrosimone and forward Cole Quisenberry each scored a pair of goals in the win, including an overtime game winner from Mastrosimone.
Abruzzese, who leads the USHL in scoring this season with 73 points (25-48-73), has led the way this season against Cedar Rapids with four points (0-4-4) this season. Forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine has three points (2-1-3) while Mastrosimone (2-0-2), Quisenberry (2-0-2), Shea (1-1-2), forward Travis Treloar (1-1-2) and defensemen Matteo Pietroniro (1-1-2), Luke Reid (0-2-2) and John Spetz (0-2-2) all have a pair of points. Justin Robbins has seen all the minutes against the RoughRiders this season with a .909 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average in four games (3-1-0-0).
- Defenseman Luke Reid was named USHL Defenseman of the Week on Monday after a three-point (1-2-3) week as he finished +8 and scored his first career USHL goal. The University of North Dakota commit has 18 points (1-17-18) and a +13 rating through 53 games this season.
- Forwards Robert Mastrosimone (7-7-14) and Nick Abruzzese (4-9-13) each enter the game on individual nine game point streaks. Abruzzese currently leads the USHL in points (73) and assists (48) while his 25 goals is tied for 11th. The duo have also been red hot dating back to the beginning of 2019. In 27 games since January 1, Abruzzese has 39 points (17-22-39) and Mastrosimone has 37 (17-20-37). Abruzzese has been held off the scoresheet four times in that span while Mastrosimone has been held scoreless three times.
- Other point streaks heading into Wednesday’s game include Adam Robbins (4 games, 0-4-4), Josiah Slavin (3 games, 4-0-4), Mathieu De St. Phalle (3 games, 2-2-4), Christian Sarlo (3 games, 1-3-4), Jake Schmaltz (1-3-4), Owen Power (1-2-3) and Sam Colangelo (2 games, 2-0-2).
- Colangelo scored his first career USHL goal Friday night and then doubled down with his second on Sunday. The Northeastern commit has appeared in eight games for the Steel this season.
- Defenseman Matteo Pietroniro has points in three of the last four games (1-2-3) and is fourth among USHL defensemen with 43 points (17-26-43) this season. His 17 goals this season is most by a Steel defenseman in team history and is tied for second-most in the USHL among blueliners.
MEET THE OPPONENTS:
- Chicago and Cedar Rapids (31-18-3-2, 67 pts.) meet for the final time in the regular season on Wednesday night in a pivotal Eastern Conference standings battle.
o Forward Nathan Smith has led the RoughRiders this season with 47 points (17-30-47). The Winnipeg Jets prospect has two assists in four games against Chicago this season.
o Goaltender Blake Pietila holds a 25-11-3-1 record this season and ranks third in the USHL for goals against average (2.35) and fourth in save percentage (.912). Pietila faced the Steel in the first two matchups of the season, picking up a 29-save shutout in the first meeting before being saddled with an overtime loss the next meeting with 14 saves on 18 shots.
- The Steel and Capitols (13-37-4-2, 32 pts.) square off for the final meeting of the season on Friday night for Pucks and Pups night presented by Woofbeach.
o Forward Chase Brand has paced Madison’s offense this season with 45 points (14-31-45) in 56 games.
o Goaltender Joseph Lamoreaux is 0-3-0-0 this season against Chicago with a .852 save percentage and 4.59 goals against average. Garrett Mackay has appeared in two games this season (0-0-1-0) against Chicago with a .865 save percentage and 5.00 goals against average.
- Chicago and Waterloo (34-14-5-2, 75 pts.) close the Steel weekend on Saturday for Animal House anniversary celebration presented by Waubonsee Community College with a “College” t-shirt giveaway (first 500 fans).
o Forwards Matej Blümel (30-26-56) and Emil Öhvall (29-27-56) lead the way with 56 points each this season for the Black Hawks.
o Goaltender Logan Stein has played the bulk of the minutes for Waterloo this season, holding a 16-5-1-0 record in 26 appearances with a 2.68 goals against average and .898 save percentage.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.