GENEVA, ILLINOIS — For the first time since the 2019 Clark Cup Final, the Chicago Steel were eliminated from the Clark Cup Playoffs after a 4-2 loss in a deciding Game 3 against the Madison Capitols at Fox Valley Ice Arena on Tuesday night.
Madison netminder Simon Latkoczy made 28 stops while the Capitols scored three times in the second period to come back from a 2-0 deficit.
Jake Dunlap netted a pair of goals for Madison while Jack Musa and Luke Mittelstadt picked up goals for the Capitols in the win.
Jayden Perron and Nick Moldenhauer scored goals for the Steel and netminder Christian Manz made 27 saves.
The first period was tightly contested as neither team backed down in the high stakes of Game 3.
With each team going chance-for-chance in the first, Steel forward Anthony Dowd had the first golden opportunity of the game on his stick with just under 13 minutes left in the period. Splitting two defenders, Dowd snapped a wrister that was snagged by the glove of Madison netminder Simon Latkoczy as he kept the scoreless tie in effect.
Shortly after Chicago got its shot, Steel goaltender Christian Manz stood his ground on a high-skill play from Capitols forward Jake Dunlap. Catching up to a lead pass, Dunlap one-touched the puck from point-blank range into the gut of Manz and he held on to force a faceoff.
As the clock ticked towards the end of a scoreless opening period, Jayden Perron changed things in favor of the Steel.
Coming off the bench from a line change, Perron caught up to a puck forced loose by Nick Moldenhauer. Perron skated to the right and shot left, beating Latkoczy for the game’s first goal.
The Steel took advantage of a power play in the opening minutes of the second, taking a 2-0 lead in the process.
Perron took a pass from Jack Harvey and had time in the right circle to look to the point but instead fired a no-look pass to the front of the net where Nick Moldenhauer got his blade on the pass, re-directing home his first goal of the postseason.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Madison cut the deficit in half. With a condensed odd-man rush, Tyler Haskins fed Jake Dunlap on the left side before Dunlap let a quick shot go, beating Manz for the first time in the game just nine seconds after Moldenhauer’s goal.
In a span of just over four minutes at the end of the middle frame, Madison tied the game and took the lead with goals from Jack Musa and Luke Mittelstadt.
Set up by a wraparound move from Brandon Chabrier, Jack Musa drifted away from Steel defensive coverage as he caught a pass and popped the net from point-blank range with just over six minutes in the period.
The Capitols went to a power play and took advantage as Like Mittelstadt gave the visitors their first lead of the night. The defenseman had enough time in the left circle to lean into a wrister that beat Manz.
The 3-2 edge was all Latkoczy needed as the Capitols netminder and Madison defense tightened in the third period.
Latkoczy fought off all 10 shots put on net in the third including two mad scrambles in front of the net late in the period. After a flurry of chances from Andon Cerbone, Sam Lipkin and Jake Livanavage, a shot on goal from close range by Perron was soaked up by Latkoczy.
Moments later, a point shot found its way loose through Latkoczy’s gear but the netminder went flat to his back to freeze the puck, preventing Lipkin from getting to the puck.
With Manz pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute, Jake Dunlap chased down a loose puck to seal the 4-2 win with an empty net goal.
Madison advances to the Eastern Conference Final against the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Western Conference Final pits the Tri-City Storm against the Sioux City Musketeers.
The Steel will return this fall for the team’s 23rd season in the USHL and 8th at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Season ticket plans are on sale now starting at just 5 games for $50. For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.