Steel Push Lumberjacks to Brink, Take 2-1 Series Lead
GENEVA, ILLINOIS - After playing from behind for virtually all of Games 1 and 2, the Chicago Steel were able to play with a lead in Game 3 as they were led offensively by a pair of goals from right wing Robert Mastrosimone and backstopped by 35 saves from goaltender Justin Robbins in a 4-1 win Friday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena. The win gives the Steel a chance to advance to the Clark Cup Final against the Western Conference Champion Sioux Falls Stampede with a win Saturday night in front of their home crowd in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Mastrosimone picked up his first goal of the game just three minutes into the game as he collected a loose puck in the Muskegon zone, navigated around a pair of defenders and patiently waited out Lumberjacks goaltender Brandon Bussi for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
The Chicago winger, who has been the most exciting player on the ice to this point in the series, had a chance to double the lead midway through the first period but his one-time blast from the top of the faceoff circle sailed just past the near post.
Muskegon leveled the score just less than two minutes into the middle frame as forward Nolan Sullivan finished off a wild net-front scramble for his second goal of the postseason.
Chicago regained its lead 1:37 later as Muskegon got in penalty trouble, giving the Steel a 5-on-3 powerplay for 1:40. With the Steel on an initial 5-on-4 powerplay, Muskegon was whistled for too many men on the ice, giving the Steel their first two-man advantage of the series. Just 24 seconds later, Steel center Nick Abruzzese sent home a one-time blast from the faceoff dot that rocketed past Bussi's blocker side, adding to Abruzzese's 12 points (6-6-12) this postseason.
Abruzzese and Mastrosimone are tied for the USHL lead for both points (12) and goals (6) while their six assists are the second-highest total in the league this postseason.
Mastrosimone added his second goal of the game midway through the middle frame as the Boston University commit struck shorthanded on a highlight-reel goal. Mastrosimone stripped Muskegon forward Mikael Hakkarainen of the puck at the blue line and pushed to the forehand as he fell to the ice and, while being taken down to the ice, slipped a forehand shot around the extended leg of Bussi.
Chicago made it a three-goal lead just 94 seconds into the third period as left wing Neil Shea wristed home a perfectly placed shot over the glove of Bussi just as a Steel powerplay chance expired.
Robbins was stellar in the contest, turning aside 18 shots in the final period and 35 on the night to secure the 4-1 win.
The teams are back in action Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena as the Steel look to close the series in front of their home crowd in Game 4. If a Game 5 is necessary, it will be played Monday, May 6 in Muskegon, Mich.
Tickets for Game 4 are on sale now and may be purchased in person at the Steel Box Office, by phone at 855-51-STEEL or online at ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com. Tickets start at just $10 and fans can catch the action up close with seats on the glass available for just $20. The group ticket minimum for Clark Cup Playoff games is just 10 people, and the Budweiser Lounge and Steel Suites are available for playoff games by calling 855-51-STEEL.
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United States Hockey League Stories from May 4, 2019
- 2019 Clark Cup Final Dates Announced - USHL
- Stampede to Face Chicago Steel in Clark Cup Final - Sioux Falls Stampede
- Steel Win Eastern Conference; Advance to Clark Cup Final - Chicago Steel
- Storm Drop Western Conference Final Series to Sioux Falls - Tri-City Storm
- Steel Push Lumberjacks to Brink, Take 2-1 Series Lead - Chicago Steel