GENEVA, ILLINOIS — Regulation was not enough for the Chicago Steel and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders during a back-and-forth game that ended in a 4-3 overtime victory for the RoughRiders Sunday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena. RoughRiders forward Aidan McDonough scored on a powerplay goal midway through the extra frame to even the best-of-five Eastern Conference Semifinals series 1-1 heading back to Cedar Rapids.
Cedar Rapids defenseman Will Zmolek tallied the first goal of Sunday’s action, sparking a flurry of three goals in 36 seconds. Zmolek, who had a pair of assists in Game 1, finished off a great powerplay passing play from forwards Jason Polin and Liam Walsh for the opening tally.
Steel right wing Robert Mastrosimone (1-1-2) scored his first goal of the playoffs just 15 seconds later. Center Nick Abruzzese picked up his sixth point in the first four periods of the series as he found Mastrosimone in the faceoff circle where the Boston University commit sent a wrist shot over the glove of RoughRiders goaltender Blake Pietila.
The tie didn’t last long as Cedar Rapids regained its lead 21 seconds later. Walsh, who was tied up with Abruzzese at the side of the net, poked home a Zmolek shot from the point that was initially batted down by Steel netminder Justin Robbins.
Mastrosimone set up the Steel’s equalizing goal with 75 seconds to play in the opening period as he charged from his own blue line to the offensive zone where he found left wing Neil Shea for his second goal in as many nights. Shea settled the pass before firing a wrist shot over the blocker of Pietila.
Chicago took its first lead of the game 4:13 into the second period when defenseman Uula Ruikka’s shot from the point hit traffic out front and deflected through the five hole of Pietila. The lead lasted just 11 seconds before McDonough went top shelf to tie the game 3-3.
Robbins was called upon often to keep the game tied and he answered with 7:36 to play in the second when he denied a wide-open Cedar Rapids chance from the slot. He then denied a point-blank chance with two minutes remaining in the period to send the game to the third period tied 3-3.
Cedar Rapids appeared to take the lead with 8:59 to play in the game but after review, the referees confirmed a kicking motion on the goal, maintaining the 3-3 tie.
Pietila forced the overtime frame as he denied a streaking Mastrosimone on a breakaway chance with just 18 seconds remaining in regulation. Mastrosimone broke through a pair of RoughRiders and went forehand-backhand on Pietila, but the netminder extended his left leg enough to deny Mastrosimone with a toe save.
In overtime, after the teams exchanged chances, Cedar Rapids went to the powerplay nearly 7:30 into the extra session. McDonough, stationed in front of the net with the powerplay winding down, was able to poke the puck past a sprawling Robbins for the game winner.
The series now shifts to Cedar Rapids for Games 3 and 4, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. CT at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
If Game 5 is needed, it will be Saturday, April 27 at 7:05 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Tickets for a potential Game 5 are on sale now.
Single game tickets for the Eastern Conference Semifinals are on sale now.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.