(I apologize for the lateness of this report. Too much hockey this weekend plus recovering from a cold means I crashed pretty hard on Monday.)
Before I get on with the recapping, you should go read this interview with the baby-faced giant himself, Zach Saar.
I would also like to congratulate Chris Joyaux for committing to play at Miami University next season. He will join fellow Steel alum Will Weber, along with 17 other USHL graduates.
Now, on to the recaps!
If you were at the game on Friday, and you were wondering about the chick in the pink glasses sitting behind the benches, typing frantically on her computer and taking pictures with her phone — congratulations, you caught me on my first night of live reporting on the Steel.
Friday was also the home opener for the Steel, and as you can see by the score above, it’s one that they would have liked to have back.
Austin Cangelosi scored two goals for the Phantoms, including a shorthanded breakaway to end the 0-0 tie in the first period. After that came the fight pictured above between Jimmy Devito and Ryan Belonger with about 15 seconds to go in the first. It was a pretty even scrap, and Devito got the takedown, so I had hoped this would spur the Steel on to tie the score. But it was not meant to be. Cangelosi would score again in the second. The Steel were held to just three shots on goal in the third period as Richard Zenhal potted the empty-netter, ending all hopes of a last-minute Steel comeback.
I learned a few things about the USHL and the Steel in my first game at the Edge Ice Arena:
- This was a fast-paced game. These are young men, with all the energy that youth provides, and it shows in how quickly and hard they skated.
- …But, of course, they’re still young men, which means they’re still learning about discipline. There were ten power plays tonight — four for Youngstown and six for Chicago. They’re still learning, and that’s okay. This is their time to learn how to be professionals.
- Sitting in the front row behind the penalty boxes seemed like a good idea until the children started running back and forth in front of me, blocking my view. Next time, I’ll sit up further. (And, yes, there will be a next time. I hope to make it out to as many games as possible.)
- The Phantoms have some terribly ugly jerseys.
After the game, I was able to speak with the Steel’s head coach, Scott McConnell and ask him a few questions. And by a few, I mean three, because I have never interviewed someone vis-à-vis before. I was incredibly nervous, to say the least. Fortunately, after failing at procuring a digital recorder, I was able to use my DROID Bionic to preserve my first interview for all eternity… or until I want to delete it, thus erasing the evidence of my incredible awkwardness.
Kat Velez: The good news is that the team didn’t let the Phantoms score on the power play. Bad news is that the Steel didn’t score on the power play. What do you think the team needs to do to improve on the man advantage?
Coach McConnell: Obviously, having a man advantage, you want to generate as many chances and generate as many shots on the power play as you possibly can. Tonight, we really didn’t have that. Tonight, we just made plays and hoped that they would work out, and took shots that we hoped got to the net, and we just made too many “hope” plays. That’s not going to equal scoring chances, and if you don’t get any scoring chances, you can’t get goals. Therefore, at the end of the game, we have a big doughnut on the scoreboard. It’s one of those deals where we have to go back and figure out how to get back to fundamentals, generate some scoring chances, and go from there.
KV: What positives do you think that you can take from this game, even though there was a big doughnut on the scoreboard?
CM: Honestly, we played really good in the first period. Somehow, we were down 1-0 after it just because of a bad turnover. Positives are that this is a good hockey team, and, for us, we didn’t play very good at all — and we were still competitive in the game. That shows us that, if we were to play our game, there are a lot of teams in this league that we can skate with, and that we have the opportunity to beat. So, we did see some positives — there weren’t a lot, but there were a couple.
KV: Why do you think Youngstown threw you off your game, then?
CM: They were really aggressive. Honestly, they were more aggressive than our guys had probably planned. They were prepared and ready to play… and we gave them offense. Whenever you give them offense and play with a deficit — it’s not easy to come back in our league. Every team is good, and we gave them a little more than we wanted to, and they fed off of it.
And thus ended my first face-to-face interview.
Afterward, the Steel held their Skate With The Steel Party.
It was really nice to see the guys come out and interact with the fans, even after such a tough loss on opening night.
Of course, the game I wasn’t at this weekend is the one the Steel win.
The Steel opened up the scoring at 4:15 in the first period with a shot by Bo Pieper, assisted by Christian Heil, but the Lumberjacks came right back at the end of the period, tying the game at one goal apiece going into the first intermission.
Then came the deluge.
The Steel scored four goals in the second period, including two by Zach Saar (the others were from Theo DiPauli and Christian Heil), to put the game safely out of reach. The Lumberjacks could only muster two goals. Michael Fallon scored one more goal to get the touchdown in the third period, and that was the game.
The Steel played a more disciplined game this time, only going on the penalty kill twice. In contrast, the Lumberjacks found themselves on the penalty kill eight times. The Steel were only able to convert on one of those power plays — but, fortunately, they weren’t needed this game.
The Chicago Steel continue on this roller coaster of emotions on Friday, October 14 in a game in Lincoln against the Stars. The next night, they travel to Kearney to take on the Tri-City Storm. Let’s go Steel!
Disclaimer, because the FTC makes me be honest about this sort of thing: You may have noticed me plugging the DROID Bionic up there a bit. Well, there’s a reason for that. See, Verizon gave a group of bloggers the phone to use for our posts, and I was part of that group. However, the words and opinions expressed above are my own, and this phone did save my sanity on Friday. I really love this phone, you guys!