CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA — In a back and forth contest at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Chicago Steel stood victorious by a 3-2 score after an entertaining duel with the Sioux City Musketeers. Gunnarwolfe Fontaine notched a pair of goals for the Steel, including the eventual game-winner.
The teams traded chances through the first period as the pace of play was quick to start the regular season.
It was Fontaine who kicked off the scoring for the Steel at the 11:40 mark of the first period. The Northeastern University commit was in perfect position as a shot from Uula Ruikka bounced off Sioux City netminder Ethan Haider, finding Fontaine in front of the net who wrapped the loose puck around the pad of Haider to take a 1-0 lead.
Chicago out-shot the Musketeers 9-4 in the first period and began the middle frame with more of the same.
Early in the second period, the line of John Jaworski, Josh Doan and Matt Coronato had an excellent shift, controlling the puck and winning battles on the forecheck. At the end of the shift, Jaworksi had a chance that he re-directed from the left side but the puck went just wide.
After only facing four shots in the first, netminder Victor Ostman made his presence felt with an incredible sequence in the middle frame. The Musketeers were on the doorstep hacking and whacking but the Swedish netminder cancelled out the attempts as Steel forward Dawson Pasternak skated the puck out of the zone. Sioux City came right back a few seconds later as Ostman deflected a shot from the left circle away using his blocker.
The Steel killed off their first penalty of the season but fell victim to a Musketeer power play just four minutes later as Joel Maatta deflected a shot home, squaring up the score at 1-1 in the second.
Chicago mustered a last-minute barrage of chances during the middle frame as Matty De St. Phalle dished a puck from left to right finding Sean Farrell with a one-time chance but it was deflected away by Haider. Moments later, Jimmy Dowd fired a shot from the point but it was swallowed up by the Sioux City goaltender.
Time ran out on the middle frame not a moment too soon for the Steel as the Musketeers took the advantage in the shot department by a 17-16 margin during the period.
Chicago stopped all Sioux City momentum just five minutes into the third when Mackie Samoskevich picked up a puck in the left circle, danced around a Musketeer defender and roofed a rocket, giving the Steel the lead for good.
Chicago protected the one-goal advantage and looked to lock up the game on the power play when Fontaine picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, flew down the left side and popped the back of the net, beating Haider for a second time on the night.
With 2:26 to play, Chicago looked to be in the clear but Sioux City made it interesting all the way until the end. A Musketeer goal cut the deficit to 3-2 with just 1:44 to play.
After timeouts from both teams, Ostman and the Chicago defense withstood the final rush from Sioux City as time ran out, securing the opening night victory for the Steel.
Ostman made 19 stops between the Steel pipes, his first win as a USHL netminder.
Chicago returns to action on Sunday with a 4:00 pm CT puck drop in a 2019 Clark Cup Final rematch against the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Chicago Steel Upcoming Home Games:
^^^Saturday, October 5 vs. Green Bay Gamblers (7:05 pm)
Friday, October 18 vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks (7:05 pm)
Saturday, October 19 vs. Team USA (7:05 pm)
^^^ - Regular-season home opener
For more information and to purchase Steel tickets, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.