SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Chicago Steel controlled much of regulation play Sunday night but the Sioux Falls Stampede battled back, tying the game late in regulation before Andre Lee scored the game-winner with 3:55 to play in the second overtime to take a 2-0 series lead with a 3-2 win at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
The best-of-five series shifts to Chicago for Game 3 Friday, May 17 and 4, if necessary, Saturday, May 18. Both games are scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT puck drops at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva.
Chicago’s first premium scoring chance of the game came five minutes into the first period when left wing Matthew Samoskevich deflected a shot-pass from defenseman Jimmy Dowd just wide of Sioux Falls netminder Jaxson Stauber.
Left wing Gunnarwolfe Fontaine was the first skater to find the twine when he fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle to Stauber’s left up and over the blocker of the goaltender to break the scoreless tie with 5:59 to play in the first. The goal was Fontaine’s 10th point (6-4-10) of the postseason making him the third Steel player with a double-digit point total.
Chicago goaltender Justin Robbins made a crucial save with less than a minute to play in the period when he denied Sioux Falls forward Sam Stevens with a sliding safe on a wide-open net opportunity.
The Steel swarmed Stauber and the Stampede net throughout the middle frame, outshooting Sioux Falls 12-6 in the period, but Chicago couldn’t extend its lead. Center Nick Abruzzese rang a wrist shot off the corner of net midway through the period, but after review, the referees agreed the puck never crossed the line.
Sioux Falls had an extra skater on due to a delayed call on the Steel and utilized the extra body to score the equalizing goal with 4:19 to play in the second period. Defenseman Max Crozier’s shot from the blue line snuck through traffic in front of the net and past the right leg of Robbins who never saw the puck.
Chicago broke the 1-1 tie midway through the third period when left wing Robert Mastrosimone sent a heavy one-time slap shot past the blocker of Stauber on the Steel’s second powerplay opportunity of the game.
The Steel lead did not last as Sioux Falls tied the game with 2:50 to play in regulation when Stampede forward Sam Stevens fired home an equalizing five-hole goal on a sneaky shot immediately off a faceoff to Robbins’ right.
Sioux Falls outshot the Steel a combined 17-7 in the overtime sessions and neither team found the back of the net in the first overtime despite an early powerplay chance for Chicago that generated multiple scoring chances.
With the teams trading chances in the second OT, Lee found the puck at the blue line and was able to move past a Steel defender to the high slot where he sent a shot over the blocker of Robbins for the game winner.
Robbins finished with 33 saves while Stauber stopped 30 shots for his 10th victory of the playoffs.
Clark Cup Final tickets are on sale now at the Steel Box Office, by phone at 855-51-STEEL or online at ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com. Tickets start at just $10 and fans can catch the action up close with seats on the glass available for just $20. The group ticket minimum for Clark Cup Playoff games is just 10 people, and the Budweiser Lounge and Steel Suites are available for playoff games by calling 855-51-STEEL.