First off, you may have noticed that the number-one overall USHL draft pick, Brian Christie (whom I mentioned in my first article about the Steel), was not listed on the roster for the preseason. Christie informed the Steel a few weeks ago that he would not be playing for the team. It is a touchy subject for the Steel, and details are sketchy, so I think it’s best to leave the matter where it is and move forward. (That is, unless Brian Christie would like to come out of the woodwork and explain his actions. The mailbox is always open.)
In current player news, here’s an article about forward Jeff Kubiak, who had to rearrange his senior year of high school to play for the Steel.
“I put in six to seven hours a day practicing with the Steel,” he said. “It can be really hard to balance school and hockey, but my guidance counselors were very accommodating.
“They set up my schedule so I only have four classes. I’m done with school around noon, and as soon as I finish, I drive an hour to Bensenville to practice with the team.”
With junior teams, it’s easy to forget sometimes that some of these players are still technically kids. Then you read an article like this and feel really old (or maybe that’s just me).
And now, for last weekend’s recap.
September 16 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints
Steel win over the Fighting Saints 5-4 in a shootout.
Zach Saar — (hat) rainmaker.
Saar netted a natural hat trick to help carry the Steel to their first win of the preseason. The first came only 1:38 into the game to give the Steel a 1-0 lead. After the Fighting Saints scored twice in less than 20 seconds late in the period to take the lead, Saar came back during the second period and scored twice more. His second goal came at 2:23 in the period, assisted by Jaccob Slavin, and the hat trick came at 11:14.
Of course, the Steel can’t make it easy on themselves, and the Fighting Saints came back to take a 4-3 lead with goals by Shane Walsh and Kevin Morris at the end of the period. Fortunately, the Steel went on the power play early in the third period, and Charlie O’Connor tied the game with another assist by Slavin. With the score tied at 4, and no one scoring in overtime, the Steel and the Fighting Saints were headed into a shootout.
Canon Pieper and Christian Hiel score on their shots, but Dubuque matched them with two. It all came down to Bo Pieper at the end, and he did not disappoint. On his shot, the Steel picked up their first win of the season. Goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom turned away 37 shots.
September 17 vs. Dubuque Fighting Saints
Steel lose to the Fighting Saints 4-5.
You know, most teams would probably give up after going down 4-0 in the first period, especially after giving up two goals in the first 50 seconds.
But this year’s team has a “never say die” attitude about them that saw them clawing back, even if the effort was for naught. First, it was Ryan Fraser-Lee breaking Dubuque’s shutout 2:30 into the second period. Joel Benson and Aidan Cavallini decided to join in on the action, making it 4-3 Fighting Saints. But then the Fighting Saints’ Ryan Piiro put a bit of cushion on their lead to make it 5-3.
Despite Canon Pieper bringing the Steel to within one in the third period, and then pulling goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos for the extra attacker, the team just could not get the equalizer. Dubuque held on to win it 5-4. You have to commend the effort, however — even if it would be nicer if the team avoided digging such a deep hole for itself in the first place.
The 2011 USHL Fall Classic starts up this Wednesday in Sioux Falls, IA. Here’s the Fall Classic schedule for the Steel:
- Wednesday, September 21: vs. Lincoln Stars – 4:00pm
- Thursday, September 22: vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks – 10:00am
- Friday, September 23: vs. Des Moines Buccaneers – 9:30am