GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel (31-7-1-0, 63 pts.) completed a perfect weekend, beating the Muskegon Lumberjacks (18-19-4-0, 40 pts) 3-1 on Sunday afternoon at Fox Valley Ice Arena. The win finished Chicago’s first 3-in-3 stretch of the season with three victories in as many days.
Netminder Ian Shane turned away 27 shots to earn the victory between the Steel pipes.
Muskegon entered Sunday’s contest on the final leg of their own 3-in-3 stretch after splitting a pair of games against the Madison Capitols on Friday and Saturday.
Neither team could reach the scoreboard through the opening frame despite having a pair of power-play chances each. Although the Steel had steady zone time in the first, their three shots on goal were the lowest in any period during the season thus far.
Cameron Berg lit the lamp for the visitors to start the scoring, a power play goal just two minutes into the middle frame. Dylan Wendt found Berg from behind the net, setting up Berg to beat Shane on his blocker side, the only blemish on the night for the netminder from Manhattan Beach, Calif.
“They’re a highly-skilled team, they’re also a really heavy team,” said Shane. “They put a lot of people in front of the net so it’s hard to see through them but I think my D did a great job clearing them out of there and letting me see pucks.”
Chicago answered in a hurry off the stick of Erik Middendorf. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native had a wide-open crease for a tap-in goal following a setup from Jimmy Dowd Jr. The blueliner gained the offensive zone and drew Muskegon netminder Eric Green wide to the right and dished it back to Middendorf for his ninth marker of the season. Dowd Jr. now has 10 points (2G, 8A) in his last nine games for Chicago.
Palatine, Ill., native Tyler Carpenter forced a takeaway on the penalty kill in the Steel defensive zone and took it coast-to-coast, hammering home a slapshot that beat Green high glove side. The shorthanded tally put the Steel in front 2-1 with just over two minutes remaining in the frame.
“We had a good (penalty kill); it wasn’t just me, it was the whole team,” said Carpenter. “Everyone that contributes to (the penalty kill) played well tonight and it was great killing with (Chicago F Matt) Coronato out there. Even though it’s a penalty kill, we’re still looking for offense sometimes so I thought we did a good job of defending well and then jumping on our opportunities.”
Chicago took a 2-1 edge into the final frame when Brendan Brisson took over a play to give the Steel a two-goal cushion.
The University of Michigan-bound forward controlled a puck from Sam Colangelo at the Chicago blue line, gaining the offensive zone. Brisson made a move to his backhand and tucked home his 21st goal of the year.
The Steel faced a Muskegon power play with five minutes remaining in the game, a chance for the Lumberjacks to claw their way back into the contest.
Shane, with the help of the Chicago penalty kill, cancelled out the penalty giving the team a 5-for-6 (83.3%) mark on the PK in the game.
Muskegon took its timeout with 1:42 left in the game and pulled its netminder, Eric Green, for the remainder of the night but the Steel defense held.
“(It’s) obviously nice to win all three,” said Steel Head Coach Brock Sheahan. “I thought Green Bay played really hard in the two games on the road. Some good experience for our guys to play in that atmosphere and then Muskegon always gives us trouble. I thought we battled tonight.”
Chicago’s league-leading record now stands at 31-7-1-0 (63 pts) with another 3-in-3 stretch looming from Fri., Feb. 14 – Sun., Feb. 16.
The Steel will look to avenge a 7-6 loss to the Des Moines Buccaneers on Feb. 1 when the club heads to Des Moines for a rematch on Valentine’s Day.
Following the one-game trip, the USA Hockey National Team Development Program comes to Fox Valley Ice Arena on Sat., Feb. 15 for Chicago Blackhawks Night featuring appearances by Stanley Cup Champion Bryan Bickell and Tommy Hawk, and Sun., Feb. 16 for LEGOLAND Day presented by LEGOLAND Schaumburg and a Topgolf Family Pack game.
Chicago Steel Upcoming Games:
Fri., Feb. 14 at Des Moines Buccaneers 7:05 pm
Sat., Feb. 15 vs. Team USA (U17) 7:05 pm (Chicago Blackhawks Night featuring Stanley Cup Champion Bryan Bickell and Tommy Hawk)
Sun., Feb. 16 vs. Team USA (U17) 3:05 pm (LEGOLAND Day presented by LEGOLAND Schaumburg, Topgolf Family Pack)
For more information and to purchase Steel tickets, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.