Trailing 4-1 with 10:20 left to play in the second period, it appeared that the Chicago Steel were going to go down without a fight against the Fargo Force at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Illinois, on Saturday night. Incredibly, the Steel decided to rally instead, scoring four unanswered goals and defeating the Force in overtime by a score of 5-4.
With the Steel already trailing 3-1 midway through the second period, the Force’s Christian Cakebread added a fourth goal to Fargo’s lead off a beautiful snap shot to the upper corner of the net and past the Steel’s starting goaltender John Lethemon. The goal proved to be the straw that broke Lethemon’s – who recently committed to Michigan State – back as he was pulled in favor of Cale Morris. In relief, Morris would go on to stop all ten shots he would face from the Force and ultimately be credited with the victory.
Now trailing 4-1, the Steel would kick off their comeback with a wrist shot from the slot Brendon Kearney with 2:42 left to play in the second period. The goal was Kearney’s fourth of the season, while Mason Bergh (1 goal, 2 assists) was credited with the assist. Coming into Saturday night’s game, Kearney was riding a hot streak of four points in his last four games.
With the score 4-2 and heading into the third period, the Steel would cut the lead to one when defenseman Peter Tischke (1 goal, 1 assist) connected on a shot from the point at the 4:25 mark. Assists were credited to Nathan Kwiecinski and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks’ 4th round selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (98th overall) Fredrik Olofsson. Blackhawks’ scouts will no doubt be pleased that Olofsson has 16 points (eight goals) in 17 games so far this season.
Trailing by one goal with a minute to play, the Steel’s head coach Scott McConnell got aggressive and decided to pull his netminder for the extra attacker. The risk paid off when Mason Bergh connected on a wrist shot with just 15 seconds left to play to tie the game at 4-4. Taking into account his three point night, Bergh has tallied 19 points in his last 12 games and leads the league in scoring with 27 points in 17 games played.
Carrying the momentum into the overtime period, the Steel would score on the only shot of the extra stanza when winger Zach Osburn finished off a perfect pass from Tanner Laczynski to secure the thrilling 5-4 victory. Like Lethemon, Osburn is also committed to Michigan State University, while Laczynski was named to the NHL’s Central Scouting Services’ watch list.
With the victory the Steel improved to 9-6-2 (20 points) and sit in fourth place of the USHL’s Eastern Conference. The Steel will return to the ice on Wednesday, November 26th when they take on the Bloomington Thunder (5-10-3) in Bloomington, Illinois. Face off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The Steel will be on the road in nine of the next ten games.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 13th season as the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league in 2014-15. A record 35 players were chosen in the 2014 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season have committed to NCAA Division I schools. For more information, visit them on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive).