CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA — The Chicago Steel scored a pair of goals early, held off a second period charge by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, and played a nearly-flawless third as the Steel took a 2-1 series lead with a 3-1 win Tuesday night at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The Steel scored a pair of goals in the first period and goaltender Justin Robbins turned aside 24 of the 25 shots he faced, giving Chicago a chance to close out the best-of-five Eastern Conference Semifinals series Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Chicago opened the scoring with a pair of goals in a 91 second span before the midway point of the first period. After a give-and-go passing play with Owen Power Steel center Cole Quisenberry fired a wrist shot from the point that hit traffic in front, deflecting off teammate Christian Sarlo and past RoughRiders goaltender Blake Pietila.
The Steel made it 2-0 shortly after when defenseman Uula Ruikka sent home his second goal in as many games on a shot from the point. Ruikka rifled a shot past the glove of Pietila and just inside the top right corner of the cage after sending a pair of passes back-and-forth along the blue line with partner Luke Reid.
Chicago netminder Justin Robbins kept the score 2-0 late in the first as he denied Cedar Rapids defenseman Will Zmolek’s one-time shot with a big sliding save on the penalty kill.
The RoughRiders cut the Steel lead in half just 38 seconds into the second period as forward Aidan McDonough finished off a cycle passing play by slipping a rebound past Robbins. The Steel netminder remained busy as he turned aside 13 shots in the middle frame to keep the Steel ahead 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Chicago regained the two-goal lead just 1:28 into the third period when left wing Gunnarwolfe Fontaine picked up a redirection goal in his first career playoff game. Fontaine, who was perched five feet in front of Pietila, tipped home a wrist shot from defenseman John Spetz.
The Steel dominated play in the third period, shutting down the RoughRiders comeback attempt and holding Cedar Rapids to just three shots in the final frame.
Game 4 will be played Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena as the Steel attempt to close out the Eastern Conference Semifinals series. If Game 5 is needed, it will be held Saturday, April 27 at 7:05 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Tickets for a potential Game 5 are on sale now.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.