There was a time this season when the Chicago Steel were struggling how to figure out how to win on a consistent basis. Through two months of the season, the Steel were struggling with a record of 4-7.
But then a win against the Madison Capitals on Nov. 10 started an eight-game win streak.
The Steel made it nine wins over the last 10 games with its 2-1 win over the Omaha Landers on Saturday at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
“We knew when the season started we had a young team coming in,” Steel coach Greg Moore said. “They just had to figure out how to win and how adjust to the speed of the game in this league. I think they are finally getting it now and playing the game the right way.”
The Steel (13-8-1), once near the bottom of the USHL Eastern Conference standings, now sits firmly in second place behind Muskegon.
“If anything we should have put more pressure on them [Omaha] tonight,” Moore said. “They are a last-place team and you don't want to give a team like that any hope of winning in your building.”
The Steel started backup goaltender Reily Herbst, and he didn't disappoint.
Herbst is a name Steel should get used to. Herbst, a Colorado native, has two more seasons of eligibility with the Steel. He kept his composure throughout the game, stopping 26 of 27 shots he faced and rarely allowed second-chance scoring opportunities to Lancer forwards.
“His positioning was very good tonight,” Moore said. “He was very square to the puck and he looked comfortable out there. When he first got here he needed to work on his confidence and getting used to the speed of the game. He has both of those things down now.”
The Steel took a 1-0 lead at the 14:18 mark of the first period when forward Christian Sarlo took a pass from defenseman Matteo Pietroniro and scored his fifth goal of the season. The Steel adding to the lead in the second period as forward Mathieu De St. Phalle scored his fourth goal of the season off a stuff chance in front of the Omaha net, making it 2-0 with 16:18 left.
All the while Herbst continued to make the saves he needed, keeping Omaha scoreless until two minutes left in regulation.
“I just tried to focus in on one shot at a time and one save at a time,” Herbst said. “I tried not to think about what's on the scoreboard. Those are some of the hardest teams to play because they will try anything and everything just to get a win. And they come in with nothing to lose. So they play as fast as they can and come at you hard. But I saw the puck real well tonight and felt good with how things turned out.”