GENEVA, ILLINOIS — Sean Farrell notched an assist in the first period to claim sole possession of the highest scoring season in franchise history but the Chicago Steel (30-11-3-2; 65 pts.) fell 5-4 against the Dubuque Fighting Saints (19-19-3-1; 42 pts.) on Friday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
Farrell added to his illustrious season, tallying a goal and a helper to surpass Andrew Miller (Steel 2007-2009) for the highest scoring season in Steel history. The Montreal Canadiens prospect now has 84 points (26G, 58A) in 45 games played.
Robert Cronin led the way for Dubuque with two markers including a shorthanded tally in the third period that broke a 4-4 tie and proved to be the game-winner, giving the University of New Hampshire commit five goals over his last three games.
Steel goaltender Jack Stark made 29 saves between the Steel pipes in just his third loss in 12 games played.
Steel fans had reason to celebrate early when Jack Harvey scored just four minutes into the game, queuing the home crowd to participate in the annual Teddy Bear Toss, presented by Geneva Family Dental.
After the crowd filled the ice surface with stuffed animals to be donated to local charities, Steel players helped gather the donations into boxes that were carried off the ice for play to resume.
Dubuque quieted the crowd shortly after Harvey’s goal when Cronin continued his torrid play, netting a goal off his own rebound in front of the crease just three minutes after the Steel took the lead.
Primo Self put the Fighting Saints in the driver’s seat with his fifth marker of the season, just past the halfway mark of the goal-littered opening frame. The forward contorted his body, picking the top right corner of the net on a wrister, making the score 2-1.
Steel rookie Adam Fantilli answered the call, tying the game at 2-2 with his 13th marker of the campaign. Farrell found the streaking Fantilli on the left side of the offensive zone before Fantilli ripped home a wrister, giving Farrell the record-setting point.
After a faceoff win in the Fighting Saints offensive zone late in the first period, Anaheim Ducks prospect Henry Thrun put Dubuque back in front with his sixth goal of the year. The blueliner kept the puck in the zone at the right point and had enough space to carry the puck into the high slot, letting go a wrister that made its way through traffic in front of Stark.
The Fighting Saints took a one-goal lead into the first intermission after outshooting the Steel by a 13-7 edge through the first 20 minutes.
Ryan Alexander extended the Fighting Saints lead early in the middle frame with some quick hand-eye coordination. After a scramble behind the Steel cage, Alexander was able to wrap his shot around Stark, finding the back of the net from the left side of the crease.
Stark made a pair of important saves during a Steel power play, keeping the home team within striking distance during the second period. The Yale University-bound netminder kicked away a breakaway chance from Cronin with his left pad and stopped a rebound chance from Kenny Connors with another left pad save.
The two-goal deficit was erased by two of Chicago’s top three point getters, Farrell and Erik Middendorf, within a 1:40 stretch early in the third.
Middendorf cut the lead to just one after forward Dawson Pasternak slid a forehand pass from the left side to the right where Middendorf one-timed home his 28th goal of the year.
Farrell then showed off his accuracy, this time with a wrist shot that found the high glove side of Fighting Saints goaltender Lukas Parik. Farrell skated to his left and shot right, flipping the puck to the top right corner to tie the game at 4-4 with 17 minutes to play in regulation.
Cronin put the finishing touches on his multi-goal night with a shorthanded tally with a standout solo effort. The Plymouth, Mass., native weaved his way through the neutral zone and into the Steel defensive zone, eluding defenders to free up enough space to get off a wrist shot.
The laser from the right circle beat Stark and put the Fighting Saints ahead 5-4, a lead that held even after the Steel pulled Stark for an extra attacker in the final minute of the game.
Parik made 19 saves in the win for Dubuque as the Fighting Saints outshot the Steel by a 34-23 total.
The teams travel to Iowa for the final matchup of the regular season series between the Eastern Conference foes. In seven contests, the Steel hold a 4-2-1-0 record against Dubuque.
The Steel return to Fox Valley Ice Arena for a three-game homestand against the Youngstown Phantoms on April 9-11, highlighted by Military Appreciation night with a special jersey auction to benefit Wounded Warrior Project, presented by McCue Chevy on Saturday, April 10 with a 7:05 pm CT puck drop.
Tickets for all remaining regular season home game are on sale now by calling 855-51-STEEL, visiting ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com or at the Steel Box Office open at 10 a.m. on the day of each home game.
Chicago Steel Upcoming Games presented by Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:
Saturday, April 3 at Dubuque Fighting Saints (7:05 pm CT)
Friday, April 9 vs. Youngstown Phantoms (7:05 pm CT) presented by McCue Chevy
Saturday, April 10 vs. Youngstown Phantoms (7:05 pm CT) Military Appreciation Night with special jersey auction to benefit Wounded Warrior Project, presented by McCue Chevy
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.