BENSENVILLE, Illinois (January, 1, 2011) – The Chicago Steel kicked off the New Year right where they left off at the end of last year, with a 5-1 loss to the Green Bay Gamblers tonight at the Edge in Bensenville. The loss is Chicago’s tenth in a row and third out of three against Green Bay this season.
In the two previous meetings between the teams this season, the Steel jumped out to 2-1 leads only to see the Gamblers come from behind and win. For better or worse, tonight wasn’t one of those nights.
Instead, after a hard fought scoreless first period, the Gamblers finally broke the 0-0 tie late in the second period (at 14:15) when Jean-Paul LaFontaine scored on a point blank wrist shot. The play was set up nicely by a centering pass out of the left wing corner from William Kessel. Kessel, who had 3 goals and an assist in his last game against Chicago, has 13 points in his last 8 games, including 6 goals.
The Gamblers kept the pressure on and were rewarded just over three minutes later (at 17:26) when on the power play Travis Lynch took an excellent cross ice pass Robert Francis then scored off his own rebound to make it 2-0. The period would end that way, with a 2-0 score and 17 total shots for Green Bay and 15 for the Steel.
At the start of the third period, Green Bay wasted no time and added a goal from Grant Arnold to take a 3-0 lead. It was an unfortunate break for the Steel, as Arnold’s shot deflected off a Steel stick and past goalie Connor Wilson (18 saves on 23 shots).
Down 3-0, the Steel continued to fight hard. They were finally rewarded for their efforts, when at 11:15, RJ Boyd got his first USHL goal in his first game with the Steel off a long wrist shot from the point. Tucker Brockett was credited with the assist.
Unfortunately, the Steel’s hope for a comeback was short lived. Only one minute and ten seconds later, Green Bay’s Sam Herr scored on a low shot that beat Wilson stick side to make it 4-1.
The Steel would eventually go on to lose by a margin of 5-1, when Robert Francis got his second point of the game (1 goal, 1 assist) off a wrist shot that beat Wilson to the glove side during an odd man rush. Francis’ two point performance was recognized with first star of the game honors.
Although he saw few shots, Gamblers goalie Ryan McKay (12-2-1, 2.04 GAA, .924 SV%) was solid and picked up the win, turning away 22 of 23 shots. Currently, McKay’s 2.04 goals against average ranks fourth amongst all USHL goalies.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its ninth season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2010-11. With over 200 players this season already committed to NCAA Division I schools and 15 NHL Entry Draft picks currently on League rosters, the USHL is the nation’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit www.ushl.com or www.chicagosteelhockeyteam.com. .
Chris Paxhia covers the ChicagoSteel for glowbass.com. He also covers the USHL for hockeysfuture.com. You can follow him on Twitter at: @ChrisPaxhia25 or contact him a [email protected]