GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel (21-7-2-0; 44 pts.) couldn’t solve the Dubuque Fighting Saints (11-15-1-0; 23 pts.) on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 4-3 decision at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Dubuque defenseman Ian Pierce’s shot from the point broke a 3-3 tie with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period to give the Fighting Saints their first victory on Chicago’s home ice since Nov. 26, 2016 and the first regulation win for Dubuque over the Steel since April 6, 2019.
The Fighting Saints scored first and never trailed as they stacked back-to-back impressive defensive performances against the Steel who entered the weekend set as the highest scoring team in the USHL. Dubuque held Chicago to a season-low 17 shots on goal on Saturday and limited the Steel to just 20 shots in the win on Sunday.
Dubuque forward Robert Cronin kick started the visitors’ offensive attack with the first goal of the game. The University of New Hampshire commit gained the offensive zone with four minutes eclipsed in the opening frame, waiting out Steel goaltender Nick Haas. Cronin picked the top right corner on Haas, giving the Fighting Saints a 1-0 edge.
A golden Steel scoring opportunity turned into a 2-0 lead for the Fighting Saints in the blink of an eye.
Matt Coronato, the USHL leader in goals, picked off a pass high in his own defensive zone and broke in alone on Fighting Saints netminder Lukas Parik. Parik, playing his second game in less than 24 hours, was able to fight off a backhand attempt from Coronato before the Saints broke out of their defensive zone.
Cronin once again gained the offensive zone on the left side of the ice but this time dished the puck to a cutting Tristan Lemyre who snuck behind the Steel defense. Lemyre’s forehand-backhand move gave the Fighting Saints a 2-0 cushion heading into the first intermission.
All three goals scored in the second period came within a 102 second span.
Dylan Robbins broke through for the Steel with his first USHL goal halfway through the second. Robbins, a Sacred Heart University commit, caught a pass from Josh Doan in front of the net and turned a shot on net that beat Parik five-hole.
Dawson Pasternak pulled the Steel to a tie with his fifth goal of the season, extending his point streak to seven games (2G, 7A). The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native lost his defenders and re-directed a Jack Bar shot home on his backhand.
As quickly as Chicago tied the game, Dubuque reclaimed the lead.
Just under a minute after Pasternak’s marker, Andrei Buyalsky lit the lamp for Dubuque, extending his goal streak to three consecutive games.
On the power play in the third, Coronato extended his lead in goals among USHL skaters after a rebound from an Erik Middendorf shot bounced his way. The Harvard University-bound forward pounced on the puck, scoring his 24th goal of the year to tie the game.
The Fighting Saints took final control of the weekend finale as time ticked down in the third.
After a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Dubuque defenseman Ian Pierce walked his own blueline and flipped a shot on net that trickled through traffic in front of the net and past Haas to put the Fighting Saints up 4-3.
The last gasp for Chicago came on a Steel power play with just 2:30 of regulation time remaining. Despite controlling the puck in the offensive zone, the Steel could not force overtime.
The Steel went 1-for-3 (33.3%) on the power play in the loss as Haas turned away 17 Dubuque shots.
The Steel hit the road for their next eight games, the longest scheduled stretch of consecutive road games this season, starting with three games in three days.
Chicago heads to Michigan for a highly anticipated matchup against Team USA (U18) on Friday, Feb. 19 at 6:00 pm CT at USA Hockey Arena.
The Steel face off against the Youngstown Phantoms at Covelli Centre on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 6:05 pm CT before returning to Michigan to conclude the weekend against Team USA (U17) on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 3:00 pm CT.
Chicago Steel Upcoming Games presented by Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:
Friday, February 19 at Team USA (U18) (6:00 pm CT)
Saturday, February 20 at Youngstown Phantoms (6:05 pm CT)
Sunday, February 21 at Team USA (U17) (3:00 pm CT)
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.