Just like the last time the Chicago Steel won a USHL Clark Cup title, on the road in a Game 5 overtime, they will have to do it on the road. This, after dropping the first two games of the best-of-five Clark Cup Final series to Sioux Falls Stampede this past weekend.
The Steel lost Game 1 3-2 in overtime, being out-shot 29-22 in front of a crowd of over 6,500.
“I was not surprised how Sioux Falls came out in Game 1,” Steel coach Greg Moore said. “It’s a team which plays a very good system and has a very deep roster and play at a high pace. But you expect that at this point in the playoffs. I do think in the beginning our kids were somewhat intimidated playing in front of such a large crowd to begin with.”
After a scoreless first period, Sioux Falls scored twice in the second period on goals by Carl Berglund and Andre Lee to go up 2-0. The Steel came back to knot the game at 2-2 when forward Josiah Slavin deflected an original shot by Gunnarwolfe Fontaine past Stampede goalie Jaxon Stauber cutting the lead to 2-1. The Steel notched their second goal when defenseman John Spetz scored his third goal of the playoffs just under three minutes into the third period.
The most telling number of the game perhaps might have been the fact that the Steel took not a single penalty for the entire game. Yet, it would not be enough as Sioux Falls scored just over three minutes into the extra session for the 3-2 win.
“Sioux Falls played a very strong [offensive] zone game,”Moore said. “They kept three players back a lot of the time against us in the game.”
While the Steel played a more fluid Game 2 Sunday afternoon in Sioux Falls, the result was not enough to get the win.
“We did make some adjustments prior to game two,” Moore said. “And they did help. I think the boys were a lot more poised in Game 2 as well and the large crowd (5,800) did not phase us at all unlike the first game. We exited our zone a lot better in game two where Sioux Falls hemmed us in our end a lot in the first game.”
The Steel took a 1-0 lead in the opening period as Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored off a feed from Robert Mastrosimone. The Stampde came back to knot the game at 1-1 in the second period on a goal by forward Max Crosie.
The Steel got a power play goal from Mastrosimone in the third period with 7:55 left in regulation time with the assist going to Fontaine, making it 2-1. But the Steel could not hold the lead as Sioux Falls tied the game at 2-2 with 2:50 remaining. After a scoreless first overtime session, Sioux Falls got the game-winner with 3:55 remaining.
“Gunnarwolfe has played fantastic for us this season,”Moore said. “'Its like every time he has the puck on his stick you know something good is going to happen.”
The series shifts back to Geneva for Games 3 and 4 Friday and Saturday nights, both games at 7 p.m.