Before I get into the recap of the Fall Classic, I would like to point everyone to this article about defenseman Christian Neumann balancing his high school studies with his play. And now I feel old again.
Onto the Fall Classic!
The USHL Fall Classic is a four-day event where each of the USHL’s 16 teams come out and play three games in front of not only fans, but college recruiters from the top hockey schools in the country, along with NHL team scouts. It’s a great way for the teams to put their to talent out there, along with getting to know their rivals. For the fifth year in a row, Sioux City, IA hosted the Fall Classic.
Wondering how the Steel did? Well, let’s get into that now.
Wednesday, September 21
Steel vs. Lincoln Stars
Steel lose to the Stars 3-1.
Theo DiPauli scored the only goal for the Steel in the loss. His unassisted goal came in the third period, after the Stars posted a 3-0 lead. Mathias Dahlstrom made 32 saves in the loss.
Thursday, September 22
Steel vs. Muskegon Lumberjacks
Steel lose to the Lumberjacks 4-1.
Despite nine power plays, the Steel could only convert on one in their loss to the Lumberjacks on Thursday. Yes, you read that right. Nine power plays. Meanwhile, the Lumberjacks were able to convert on two of their five power plays on the night.
This was another chippy game where the Steel just could not convert their multiple chances. It all seemed to explode in the third after Muskegon’s Jordan Masters and Christian Heil got into it. Masters earned a game misconduct after grabbing Heil’s face mask. A minute later, frustrations seemed to boil over as Zach Saar and Chris Joyaux earned fighting majors.
The Lumberjacks out-shot the Steel 39-25. Phillip Marinaccio scored the lone goal for the Steel in the third period, assisted by Jeff Kubiak and Ryan Fraser-Lee.
Friday, September 23
Steel vs. Des Moines Buccaneers
Steel win against the Buccaneers 5-4 in the shootout.
Now that’s more like it! The Steel converted on three of their six power plays to pull off a come from behind victory over the Buccaneers on Friday night to end their time at the Fall Classic on a high note.
This was a see-saw game that toyed with everyone’s emotions, including my own. The Steel started off the game down a goal when Drake Caggiula scored 16 seconds into the first period for the Buccaneers. However, the Steel struck back with a power play goal by Chris Joyaux at 13:18, helped out by Zach Saar and Charlie O’Connor. Of course, this is the Steel we’re talking about, and they don’t make things easy on themselves. Christian Neumann went to the box for holding, and as time ended on the Buccaneers’ power play, Ethan Prow put Des Moines up 2-1. Anze Kopitar’s little brother, Gasper, got the assist. (And that will be the last time I mention that fact, I swear.)
The second period started much like the first period, with an early goal. Fortunately, it was the Steel’s Phillip Marinaccio who put the biscuit in the basket on the Steel’s only even-strength goal of the game. DiPauli and Ali Thomas assisted on the goal. After the Buccaneers’ Anthony Grecco put his team back up by 1, Thomas decided that having an assist wasn’t enough. On the power play, he tied the game yet again, with DiPauli and Joyaux getting the helpers. And so it stayed through the second intermission.
Anthony Grecco would get his second goal of the game midway through the third period to put the Buccaneers back up by 1. Then Des Moines’ Patrick Kirkland decided it would be a good idea to check somebody from behind. Not only did he get two minutes for the check, he also got a ten-minute game misconduct. Thirteen seconds later, Des Moines received another penalty when Wayland Williams went to the box for tripping. A minute later, Joyaux cashes in on the 5-on-3 to tie up the game for the fourth time. Jaccob Slavin received an assist, along with DiPauli (a stellar game for him with three assists). After overtime passed with no goals, it was on to the shootout. Cal Decowski would score the lone shootout goal for Des Moines, while Bo Pieper and Theo DiPauli found the back of the net for the Steel.
The Steel’s regular season opens in Ann Arbor, MI against the Team USA U-17 team on Saturday, October 1 at 6:05pm. Finally, the games start to count from here on out, and we’ll be covering them every step of the way.