GENEVA, ILLINOIS — While participating in what is believed to be a first in hockey history, the Chicago Steel kept their winning ways Friday night, defeating the Central Illinois Flying Aces 5-4 at Fox Valley Ice Arena for the team’s sixth win in a row. Chicago (10-7-1-0, 21 pts.) extended a winning streak that dates back to Saturday, Nov. 10 as they beat Central Illinois (11-9-2-0, 24 pts.) for a second-straight time.
Steel players each wore a unique helmet designed by area students and artists that were auctioned off during the game, raising more than $3,000 for the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope. The charity provides art and music supplies to kids with cancer. The event, presented by School of ART in Geneva, made for a more colorful viewing experience for fans with the home team donning special lids.
Despite the Flying Aces opening the scoring thanks to a tap in goal from left wing Stephen Halliday 4:47 into the game, the Steel answered back with a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Steel center Nick Abruzzese, who wore an alligator-themed helmet designed by students from Alice Gustafson Elementary School, opened the scoring for the home team at the 8:05 mark with his fourth of the year to extend his point streak to four games (2-4-6). The Harvard commit pounded the puck home after a shot from right wing Neil Shea, in a Ninjago Lego Snake helmet designed by students J.B. Nelson Elementary School, bounced around Flying Aces’ goaltender Ryan Snowden’s crease.
Chicago took its first lead of the game with 4:10 to play in the opening frame when center Adam Robbins, who donned a stars and stripes design by Jen Siracusano of School of ART, finished off a strong effort from left wing Robert Mastrosimone. After Mastrosimone, who rocked his Geneva Schools top designed by Fabyan Elementary School students, drove through a pair of Central Illinois skaters and got a shot off while being dragged to the ice, Robbins collected the rebound in the slot and sent a shot over a sprawling Snowden. With the goal, Robbins extended his point streak to seven games (5-5-10).
Chicago goaltender Justin Robbins made an incredible save in the final minute of the period to keep the score 2-1 entering the second.
The Steel extended their lead to 3-1 5:09 into the second period when defenseman Uula Ruikka, who sported a helmet designed by Cub Scout Pack 347, unleashed a huge one-time slap shot from the blue line on the powerplay. Abruzzese collected an assist on Ruikka’s fourth goal of the season. Ruikka extended his point streak to three games (2-2-4) with the goal.
The Flying Aces got the goal back 1:32 later on forward Chad Hillebrand’s third goal of the season. Central Illinois forward Chaseton Sare sprung Hillebrand on the breakaway where he used a forehand-backhand to beat a lunging Robbins low to the blocker side.
Central Illinois then tied the game with 14.2 to play in the second period as forward Phillippe Lapointe scored after Lynden Breen shot the puck on net immediately off the faceoff to his right.
Steel right wing Ryan Doolin, who wore an inspirational helmet from Tri-Cities Enrichment Co-Op, put the home team ahead for good at the midway mark of the third period. The Hanover, Mass. native pounded home his fourth of the season after a point shot from center Cole Quisenberry, in his water-themed helmet from Violett McCann of School of ART, bounced around Snowden’s crease.
The Steel, and their more traditional black helmets, travel to Bloomington for the final of three-straight games against the Flying Aces Saturday night for a 7:07 p.m. faceoff at Grossinger Motors Arena. Chicago plays three games next week, beginning with a Tuesday, Dec. 4 game against Cedar Rapids at Fox Valley Ice Arena at 7:05 p.m. The Steel then travel to Des Moines for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff Saturday, Dec. 7 before returning home for Saturday, Dec. 8 against the Omaha Lancers. Next Saturday’s game is Rusty’s Birthday Party featuring a Mascot Hockey Game during intermission. After the game, fans are invited to Skate with the Steel.
Tickets for all Steel home games are on sale now starting at just $10 and stadium seating on the glass is available for just $20. Parking is always free. The Steel offer discounted tickets for groups and are offering a special Holiday Ticket Plan, which includes three games and four gifts for just $40.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.