Nebraska Road Trip in Store for Steel
GENEVA, ILLINOIS - The Chicago Steel will head out west beginning Friday for a three-game weekend against two of the hottest teams in the USHL. First, it's the league-leading Tri-City Storm on Friday and Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. CT before the weekend closes 180 miles east against the Omaha Lancers on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. CT.
Chicago (27-15-1-0, 55 pts.) enters the three-game road trip having won 10 of its last 13 games, bringing its prolific scorers to square off against some of the league's best goaltending.
Steel center Nick Abruzzese currently leads the USHL with 59 points (20-39-59) while Storm defenseman Ronnie Attard (20-22-42) just set the USHL single-season goal scoring record for a defenseman. Abruzzese enters the contest on a five-game point streak (4-7-11) while Attard, the reigning USHL Defenseman of the Week, is coming off a five-point (2-3-5) weekend. Abruzzese is tied with forward Robert Mastrosimone for the Steel lead with 20 goals and Mastrosimone enters the weekend on a 10-game point streak (7-8-15). Attard - who leads the league with a +40 rating - is tied for the Storm lead in points (42) with forward Shane Pinto while reigning USHL Forward of the Week Brendan Furry is just behind them with 39 points (15-24-39).
Charged with stopping the offense will be goaltenders Justin Robbins and Isaiah Saville. Chicago's Robbins enters the weekend having won nine of his last 10 games and is currently fourth in the league with 19 wins this season. Tri-City (34-9-1-1, 70 pts.) has also allowed the fewest amount of goals (101) thanks to the goaltending of Saville, who currently leads the league in both goals against average (1.78) and save percentage (.935).
The Steel end the weekend with a Sunday matinee against the Omaha Lancers (17-19-3-4, 41 pts.). The Lancers are on a nine game point streak (6-0-2-1) and are just eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 19 games to play heading into the weekend. Chicago took the only meeting of the season so far in a 2-1 win at Fox Valley Ice Arena back on December 8. Steel goaltender Reilly Herbst made 26 saves in the contest and was one shot away from his first USHL shutout before former Lancers forward Ryan Savage, now with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, scored a goal late in the third.
Omaha's push for the playoffs has been in part to the stellar play from goaltender Akira Schmid, who is 4-0-2-0 in his last six starts. In that span, Schmid has a 1.48 goals against average and .944 save percentage including a 16-save shutout against Sioux City on February 8. Schmid is currently second amongst USHL goaltenders in both goals against average (2.26) and save percentage (.921).
The Steel return to Fox Valley Ice Arena on Saturday, March 2 for the team's second-annual Wiener Dog Races when Chicago hosts Dubuque at 7:05. 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.
* Abruzzese enters the weekend the USHL leader in points with 59 points (20-39-59) in 43 games this season. His 1.37 points per game is third among USHL scorers with 20-or-more games. The Harvard University commit enters the weekend on a five-game point streak (4-7-11) and has a point in 25 of his last 29 games dating back to November 17.
* Mastrosimone enters the weekend on a 10-game point streak (7-8-15). It is just the fifth time in Steel history a player has recorded a double-digit point streak, and the second time this season (Gunnarwolfe Fontaine: 10 games, 8-5-13).
* Robbins has won nine of his last 10 starts and is currently third amongst USHL goaltenders with 19 wins this season.
* Forward Cole Quisenberry scored a goal in both games last weekend and is now on a five-game point streak (2-3-5).
* Defenseman Owen Power scored a goal Friday night and now has three goals in his last five games. Power is second in the USHL among rookie defensemen with seven goals this season.
* Defenseman Jimmy Dowd scored his first career USHL goal on Friday night and has a point in four of the last six Steel games (1-3-4).
* Defenseman John Spetz has recorded an assist in four of the last seven Steel games, including a two-assist game against Fargo on January 26.
MEET THE OPPONENTS:
* Chicago opens the weekend with a pair of games against the league-leading Tri-City Storm (34-9-1-1, 70 pts.) on Friday and Saturday night at Viaero Center in Kearney, Neb.
* Tri-City's 70 points leads the next best USHL team (Muskegon) by five points.
* Defenseman Ronnie Attard is tied for the team-lead with 42 points (20-22-42) and set a new USHL record for goals by a defenseman in a single season with his 20th. The Western Michigan University commit currently has a league-leading +40 rating.
* Goaltender Isaiah Saville leads the USHL in both goals against average (1.78) and save percentage (.935).
* The Steel close the weekend Sunday afternoon against the Omaha Lancers (17-19-3-4, 41 pts.).
* The Lancers have won six of their last nine games and have picked up a point in the standings in all nine (6-0-2-1).
* Forward Jaxon Nelson leads the Lancers with 24 points (10-14-24) in 35 games this season.
* Goaltender Akira Schmid is second in the USHL to Saville in both goals against average (2.26) and save percentage (.921).
Friday, Feb. 15 vs. Muskegon, W, 6-1 RECAP / STATS
Saturday, Feb. 16 vs. Team USA U18, L, 2-7 RECAP / STATS
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.
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