Waterloo Edges Chicago in Barn Burner, 7-5
GENEVA, ILLINOIS - The Chicago Steel fought back from a 5-1 second period deficit against the Waterloo Black Hawks to pull within one on two occasions, but could never find the equalizer as the Steel fell 7-5 Saturday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Chicago (34-20-4-0, 72 pts.) had multi-point performances from forwards Nick Abruzzese (1-1-2), Gunnarwolfe Fontaine (1-1-2) and Robert Mastrosimone (1-1-2) as well as defenseman Matteo Pietroniro (1-1-2), but Waterloo (36-14-5-2, 79 pts.) edged Chicago for the win.
The first period started as a defensive battle before the teams combined for three goals in the final 4:02 of the opening frame. Waterloo struck first as forward Vladislav Firstov finished off a 4-on-1 rush. The Russian forward tapped home a perfect backhand pass from forward Emil Ohrvall past a sprawling Chicago netminder Justin Robbins.
Chicago tied things with a powerplay strike just 39 seconds later off the stick of Pietroniro. The Steel captain finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play between himself, Abruzzese and Mastrosimone when he fired a heavy wrist shot from the slot past the glove of Black Hawks goaltender Evan Fear.
Waterloo scored the next four goals, including a strike from forward Kyle Haskins with less than two minutes to play in the first period. After the Black Hawks opened up a 4-1 lead, Robbins was swapped for goaltender Reilly Herbst in an attempt to turn the tide for the Steel. Waterloo struck on the first shot Herbst faced, but the Niwot, Col. native made a series of big saves as the Steel clawed back for three-straight goals in the second period to make it 5-4.
The comeback started when Abruzzese finished off a three-man passing play of his own with left wing Neil Shea and right wing Christian Sarlo just 19 seconds after the fifth Waterloo goal. Abruzzese started the play as he dropped off to Sarlo on the blue line who went cross-ice to Shea for the pass to Abruzzese who slammed home the goal.
Chicago then struck for a pair of powerplay goals 1:40 apart in the back half of the second period that began with right wing Mathieu De St. Phalle and ended with Mastrosimone. De St. Phalle's goal came on a broken play as the University of Wisconsin commit carried into the zone against a triad of white sweaters, but the winger regained a loose puck in the slot and pulled a quick backhand-forehand move on Fear for his 11th goal of the season.
Mastrosimone combined with Pietroniro to make it 5-4 as Mastrosimone dumped to Pietroniro on the blueline who found his winger with a beautiful shot-pass to Mastrosimone's stick for the redirection goal. With the goal, Mastrosimone moved into a tie for first in Steel career goals with his 46th career tally. The assist for Pietroniro gave him 46 points on the season, which is a franchise record for a defenseman in the Tier I era.
Waterloo answered back with a powerplay strike of its own with 2:29 to play in the second period as forward Matt Cameron struck for his fourth goal of the season. Chicago again made it a one-goal deficit as Fontaine made a play from in close to go top shelf over Fear. Fontaine, who was in front of the net, received the puck, turned and fired on Fear who couldn't stop the high shot.
The Steel nearly tied things with 14:18 to play in the game as right wing Sam Colangelo wove his way through the offensive zone but saw his quick wrist shot ping off the post. Waterloo defenseman Hank Sorensen iced the game with his third point of the night (1-2-3) with 4:41 to play, striking for his team's third powerplay goal of the game.
The powerplay was the story of the game as the teams combined for six powerplay goals. Chicago finished 3-for-6 on the man-advantage while Waterloo finished 3-for-4.
The Steel hit the road for a pair of weekend road games next week as the team travels to Waterloo for a Friday night matchup with the Black Hawks at 7:05 p.m. at Young Arena. Chicago then heads to Dubuque for a Saturday night matchup at 7:05 p.m. at Mystique Community Ice Arena against the Fighting Saints. The Steel return to Fox Valley for the final regular season home game on Friday, April 12 against the Central Illinois Flying Aces as the team hosts Fan Appreciation Night, giving away hundreds of prizes to fans on the special evening.
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.
For more information, call 855-51-STEEL or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.
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