PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN — Despite scoring three of the last four goals in the game, the Chicago Steel (21-8-2-0; 44 pts.) fell 5-4 against Team USA (U18) on Friday night at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
After Dawson Pasternak opened the game’s scoring for Chicago, Team USA netted four straight markers before the Steel began to chip away at the 4-1 lead.
Goals from Matt Coronato, Jack Babbage and Adam Fantilli weren’t enough as Team USA forward Chaz Lucius tallied two markers in his first USHL action of the season.
A shift full of puck possession early in the first period from Pasternak, Fantilli, Ryan Ufko, Jake Livanavage, and Joe Miller helped the Steel to an early lead.
Every Steel skater touched the puck before a clearing attempt from Team USA was held in by Fantilli who put a shot on net. The puck was sent skyward and Fantilli grabbed his own rebound behind the net and found Pasternak in the slot for a one-timer and a 1-0 lead.
With the goal, Pasternak extended his point streak to eight games (3G, 7A).
Team USA responded with two markers in a flash just past the halfway point of the opening frame.
Ty Gallagher was the first to score for the home team as he beat Steel netminder Simon Latkoczy with a shot through traffic from the right point.
Lucius netted the first of his two markers at the 13:35 mark of the first. A Steel defensive zone turnover led to the second Team USA goal in just under 90 seconds.
Team USA had a chance to add a third goal in a short time span when a neutral zone turnover led to a chance for Isaac Howard. Latkoczy got a piece of the shot form Howard, deflecting the puck over the net to keep the score at 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
Lucius didn’t have to wait long to add his second of the night, reaching the back of the net just 18 seconds into the middle frame.
Howard made good on a power play opportunity midway through the second period. The Hudson, Wis, native took a pass from Jack Hughes in the slot and slid a puck that never left the ice past Latkoczy. That goal pushed the lead to 4-1 Team USA.
As time wound down in the second, Pasternak drew a high sticking call on Team USA defenseman Sean Behrens, sending the Steel on a power play.
Coronato, the USHL leader in goals, made quick work, firing home a one-timer from the left circle just 14 seconds into the man advantage. The goal was Coronato’s 25th of the season, the first player in the league to reach that mark this season.
Ryan St. Louis snuffed out the Steel momentum when he reached the back of the net just over a minute following Coronato’s power play tally. St. Louis picked up a rolling puck in front of the Chicago crease and lifted the puck past Latkoczy to extend the Team USA lead to 5-2.
The third period belonged to the Steel as they climbed back into the game.
The power play unit took the ice for the third time in the contest and Jack Babbage gave the Steel its second marker with the man advantage in three opportunities.
Babbage caught a pass from Josh Doan just below the blue line in the offensive zone and let go a wrister that found its way past traffic in front of the net. The fifth goal of the year for the Quinnipiac University commit cut the deficit to 5-3 with just under 10 minutes left.
Fantilli registered his second point of the night with a hustle play that sliced the Team USA lead to just one goal. The rookie from Nobleton, Ontario, picked up a misplayed puck by Team USA netminder Gibson Homer and tucked home a wraparound before Homer could make it to his left post.
Following the goal, the Steel unleashed an offensive barrage as time wound down. Despite a handful of opportunities in the closing minute, the tying goal never came as the Steel dropped the first contest in their three-game weekend.
Latkoczy turned away 16 shots from Team USA as the Steel outshot its opponent by a 24-21 margin.
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 6:00 pm CT.
Chicago Steel Upcoming Games presented by Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:
Saturday, February 20 at Youngstown Phantoms (6:05 pm CT)
Sunday, February 21 at Team USA (U17) (6:00 pm CT)
Friday, February 26 at Des Moines Buccaneers (7:00 pm CT)
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.