GENEVA, ILLINOIS — The Chicago Steel trailed entering the third period, but came from behind Tuesday night to extend their win streak to eight games, defeating the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 3-2 at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored his first two USHL goals for Chicago (12-7-1-0, 25 pts.) and Justin Robbins stopped 26 of 28 shots for his sixth-straight win in net. Cedar Rapids (10-9-2-0, 22 pts.) led for nearly half the game but the Steel grabbed the lead for the first and final time with 14:16 to play in the game on a goal from their captain, Matteo Pietroniro.
It was an entire team effort for the Steel as the team was missing Robert Mastrosimone (World Jr. A Challenge), Travis Treloar (injury) and Josh Groll (suspension) and only dressed ten forwards for the contest.
Forward Ethan Wolthers opened the scoring for Cedar Rapids midway through the first period when he finished off a point shot from defenseman Will Francis that ricocheted off the end boards. After Francis’ shot missed the net to the glove side of Steel goaltender Justin Robbins, Wolthers was able to elevate the puck home into an open cage as Robbins slid in a desperation effort.
The score remained 1-0 despite scoring chances at both ends of the ice. Early in the second period, Fontaine’s breakaway shot careened off the end boards and off the back of RoughRiders goaltender Troy Kobryn but wouldn’t cross the line. Less than a minute after the referees reviewed the Fontaine shot, defenseman Jimmy Dowd made a pair of sliding saves as he dropped to a knee in front of Robbins on a two-on-one for Cedar Rapids.
Fontaine, playing in his 20th USHL game, found the back of the net shorthanded with 4:39 to play in the period. Fontaine sent a one-time slap shot home after center Jake Schmaltz collected the puck in the defensive zone and found Fontaine on the two-on-one for his first career USHL marker.
The tie didn’t last long as Cedar Rapids defenseman Will Zmolek rifled home his second of the season just under two minutes later with 2:43 to play in the second. RoughRiders forward Ben Almquist won the faceoff back to Zmolek who took two steps towards the center of the ice before firing a slap shot past the glove of Robbins.
Fontaine tied things up for a second time, this time at even strength, just 53 seconds into the third period. After defenseman John Spetz’s shot was saved, Fontaine circled in the slot and slipped a shot past a sliding Kobryn.
The Steel took their first lead of the game when Pietroniro scored his seventh goal of the season 5:44 into the third period. After the defenseman collected the Cedar Rapids clear at his own blueline, Pietroniro wove through a pair of RoughRiders before firing a wrist shot over the glove of Kobryn. The captain is now second among USHL defensemen with seven goals this season.
With 1:41 to play, the RoughRiders opted not to pull Kobryn for the extra attacker with an offensive zone faceoff After the puck made its way into the Cedar Rapids zone, Steel left wing Christian Sarlo pinned the puck to the end boards and killed off nearly 20 seconds. The RoughRiders pulled Kobryn with about 40 seconds remaining but couldn’t set up as the Steel did a great job of clearing their own zone.
The Steel 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.