Steel Capture Game 1 in 3-2 Overtime Thriller
GENEVA, ILLINOIS - The Chicago Steel never led in Game 1 of the best-of-three Eastern Conference Final until Matt Coronato scored his fourth goal of the postseason, an overtime game winner, to give the Steel a 1-0 series lead against the Muskegon Lumberjacks on Friday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
The Steel now sit one win away from clinching the club's third trip to the Clark Cup Final in the last four Clark Cup Playoffs.
The sellout crowd (25% capacity) at Fox Valley Ice Arena was treated to a back-and-forth clash between the top seeded teams in the Eastern Conference. Josh Doan and Adam Fantilli netted goals for the Steel in the win while Simon Latkoczy made 29 saves, his third consecutive postseason victory between the Steel pipes.
The Steel controlled possession for the majority of the opening frame, including the period's only power play, but could not find the back of the net until late in the second.
Chicago's best chance in the first came when Adam Fantilli trickled a puck through the Muskegon crease just seven minutes into the game. The Nobleton, Ontario, native wrapped around the net and waited out Lumberjacks netminder Jan Skorpik, tossing a puck through the blue paint. Skorpik punced on the puck before Josh Doan could get to it, keeping the Steel off the scoreboard.
After cancelling out a Steel power play late in the first, Muskegon broke the scoreless tie. Cam Berg potted a wrister from the slot, his third consecutive playoff game with a goal, giving Muskegon a 1-0 edge, one the Lumberjacks would hold for a large portion of the second period.
The Steel had to wait until the final minutes of the middle frame to register their first goal of the contest. On their second power play of the night, Doan teed off on a one-time setup from Ryan Ufko. From the left circle, Doan blasted his first postseason goal.
Muskegon responded before the buzzer to take another one-goal edge. Following up his own backhand attempt from just outside the crease, Bradley Marek tapped a puck past Latkoczy with 46 seconds remaining in the middle frame, giving the Lumberjacks the cushion heading into the third.
One of the youngest players on the ice tied the game at 2-2 for Chicago, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Fantilli capitalized on a chance, showing off his quick-twitch ability, halfway through the third period. The 16-year-old posted up just outside the crease, waiting for a shot from Steel defenseman Jack Babbage. The wrister from the goal line bounced off Skorpik's right pad, directly to Fantilli who one-touched the puck through Skorpik.
Doan had a golden chance to put the Steel ahead for the first time in the game when he was awarded a penalty shot with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. The Arizona State University-bound forward skated to his left and let go a low wrister that was turned away by Skorpik's right pad, keeping the score even at 2-2.
For the first time in the 2021 Clark Cup Playoffs, the Steel headed to overtime.
After several chances for each team in the first seven minutes of extra time, Coronato won the game with his fourth goal of the postseason.
The Harvard University-bound forward caught a pass from Mackie Samoskevich who had held the puck in the zone near the blue line, catching the Lumberjacks defenseman heading up ice. Samoskevich slipped a pass behind the defense to Coronato who turned to face the net, all alone in the slot. Coronato pumped a shot past Skorpik, taking a 1-0 series lead for the Steel.
Chicago and Muskegon travel to Mercy Health Arena in Michigan for Game 2 on Saturday night for a 6:10 pm CT puck drop.
If a Game 3 of the series is necessary, it would be played Monday, May 10 at 7:05 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, played Friday night, Fargo defeated Sioux City 6-1 at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City to take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three matchup.
Chicago Steel games can be heard on Mixlr at http://mixlr.com/chicago-steel/ (FREE AUDIO) and video may be streamed on available devices through HockeyTV at www.hockeytv.com (STREAM).
Chicago Steel Upcoming Games presented by Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush: Saturday, May 8 at Muskegon Lumberjacks (6:10 pm CT) Eastern Conference Final
- Game 2 *Monday, May 10 vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks (7:05 pm CT) Eastern Conference Final
- Game 3 presented by River Front Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.
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- Steel Capture Game 1 in 3-2 Overtime Thriller - Chicago Steel
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