CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA — It took 62:52 to find a goal in Wednesday’s action between the Chicago Steel and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, and it was RoughRiders forward Aiden McDonough who found the overtime winner to draw his team one point closer to the Steel in the Eastern Conference Standings. Chicago (34-19-3-0, 71 pts.) goaltender Justin Robbins stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced while Cedar Rapids (32-18-3-2, 69 pts.) netminder Blake Pietila turned aside all 23 Steel shots for his second shutout of Chicago this season as the two teams jockey for playoff positioning and a potential First Round bye.
In a game played with playoff intensity, the Steel dominated the first period with an 8-2 edge in shots. Cedar Rapids looked as if they might strike first early in the second period, but Justin Robbins made a net-front save on Polin, the RoughRiders leading scorer. Midway through the game, McDonough found himself alone in front of Robbins but the goaltender made a sliding save to keep the game scoreless. The RoughRiders then had the first – and only – powerplay of the night with 3:47 to play in the second period but a strong penalty kill from the Steel negated the opportunity.
Play opened up after the powerplay and the Steel missed on a pair of three-on-one opportunities that sandwiched a big save by Robbins on the other end of the ice with less than two minutes to play in the middle frame.
Midway through the third period, the Steel swarmed the net multiple times but Pietila was able to stop them all. With one-minute remaining in regulation time, traffic in front of the net created a collision with Robbins as the netminder fell to his back while a shot missed just wide, sending the game to overtime.
Chicago nearly won the game multiple times in the extra session as right wing Adam Robbins found himself alone at the edge of the faceoff circle but his wrist shot flew just wide of Pietila’s blocker. In the same shift, center Josiah Slavin cycled around the Cedar Rapids zone before firing a tough angle shot off the post in an attempt to bank it in off PIetila’s back.
Moments later, RoughRiders forward Jason Polin carried the puck into the Steel zone and dropped to forward Aidan McDonough who toe dragged around a defenseman and fired a quick wrist shot past the blocker of Robbins to win the game. The Steel finished the regular season 3-1-1-0 against the RoughRiders, with each game in Cedar Rapids being decided in overtime.
Chicago remains in second place in the Eastern Conference with Cedar Rapids now just two points back and Youngstown four points behind Chicago. The Steel have six games remaining in the regular season as do Cedar Rapids and Youngstown.
Chicago returns to Fox Valley Ice Arena for a pair of weekend home games on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30. Friday night is Pucks and Pups Night presented by Woofbeach. Fans are invited to bring their dog to the game as the Steel square off with the Madison Capitols. Friday is also a Raising Cane’s Kids Day as fans 12 and under can receive a Red Zone ticket, Steel drawstring backpack and Raising Cane’s Kids combo card all for just $10. Saturday Night is the Animal House Anniversary celebration presented by Waubonsee Community College. The first 500 fans will receive a “College” t-shirt when the Steel host Waterloo.
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.