BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel improved their winning streak to seven-straight games as they defeated the Central Illinois Flying Aces 5-1 Saturday night at Grossinger Motors Arena. Chicago (11-7-1-0, 23 pts.) had goals from five different players and goaltender Reilly Herbst stopped 20 of 21 shots as the team beat Central Illinois (11-10-2-0, 24 pts.) for the third time in three games.
Steel center Jake Schmaltz opened the scoring 9:06 into the game when he dropped to a knee to pound home the rebound from left wing Gunnarwolfe Fontaine’s initial shot. The assist was Fontaine’s second of the weekend.
After sustained pressure in the Flying Aces zone, Chicago defenseman John Spetz doubled the lead at the 13:50 mark when he unleashed a one-timer from the top of the circle that beat Central Illinois goaltender Mitchell Gibson over the blocker. Steel defenseman Owen Power set up Spetz for his second assist in the last three games.
Just 34 seconds later, center Nick Abruzzese finished off a net-front scramble after defenseman Luke Reid’s shot from the blue line. Abruzzese assisted on the second goal of the game and now has a five-game point streak (3-6-9) and team-leading 21 points.
Gibson was removed after the third goal in favor of Ryan Snowden, who picked up the loss in Friday night’s game against the Steel.
Central Illinois came out strong to start the second period and got a goal back just 21 seconds into the frame when forward Jeremy Davidson fired a one-time shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle. Davidson immediately sent his shot towards Herbst after defenseman Chase Foley’s shot bounced off the end boards and into his wheelhouse. The Flying Aces sustained pressure for the next several minutes, but Herbst stood tall and Davidson’s goal turned out to be all the offense that Central Illinois would muster.
The lead was extended to 4-1 with a textbook powerplay goal. On a play in which all five Chicago skaters touched the puck, it was center Adam Robbins who sent the puck down to right wing Neil Shea at the side of the net whose one-touch pass found Mathieu De St. Phalle for a one-time blast past Snowden. With the assist on the tic-tac-toe goal, Robbins extended his point streak to eight games (5-6-11). Shea’s set-up pass was his second assist of the night and third of the weekend.
Later in the period, Chicago left wing Christian Sarlo capped the scoring when he fired a wrist shot over the blocker of Snowden. Power collected the secondary assist for his first career USHL multi-point performance. Sarlo has now registered a point in five of his seven games this season.
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 Pack, which includes three games and four gifts for just $40.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.