Steel lose to Gamblers in shootout

Special to the Daily Herald
Updated 11/4/2017 11:42 PM

The Chicago Steel and Green Bay Gamblers battled into overtime for a second night in a row at Fox Valley Ice Arena, and this time the Gamblers skated away Saturday with a 6-5 victory after a five-round shootout.

The Steel (7-1-0-1, 15 pts.) trailed 5-3 in the third period but received goals from Baker Shore and Jordan Seyfert to force overtime. Michael Bevilacqua tallied the game-winner in the fifth round of a sudden-death shootout, securing the win for the 6-3-2-0 (14 pts.) Gamblers.

Chicago defenseman Graham Lillibridge matched a career high by tallying a four-point night (2+2), starting with the game's opening goal 7:14 into the first period with a shot from the top of the left circle.

The Gamblers tied the game less than three minutes later when traffic in front of the net and a bouncing puck led to Rory Herrman deflecting in the equalizer at 10:12. Lillibridge then regained the lead for Chicago, firing a wrist shot from the left wing past Green Bay netminder Jake Begley. Austin Magera then lit the lamp for the Steel less than a minute later, tipping the puck in on the backhand from the top of the crease off a feed from Tyler Gratton to give the Steel a 3-1 lead.

Magera's goal at 13:02 ended Begley's night, as for a second night in a row, the Steel chased Green Bay's starting goaltender in the first period. Vegas Golden Knights prospect Maksim Zhukov entered the game in relief of Begley.

Gamblers right wing Lean Bergmann scored with one minute remaining in the period, sniping a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Steel goaltender Justin Robbins to cut Chicago's lead to 3-2 at the first intermission.

Green Bay scored the only two goals of the second period. Defenseman Carver Watson made a great individual effort, cutting in from the wing and tying the game with a backhanded shot from the low slot at 14:36 to tie the game, 3-3. The Gamblers then earned their first lead of the weekend when Nolan Moyle redirected a shot past Robbins at 16:15.

Trenton Bliss increased the visitors' lead to 5-3 early in the third period, sending a rebound through traffic in the low slot at 6:10, but the Steel responded immediately. Baker Shore recorded a power-play goal at 6:33, blasting a wrist shot over Zhukov's glove. Jordan Seyfert then tied the game on a great individual effort, jamming in a bouncing puck from the goal line.

The 3-on-3 overtime period saw the Steel get the better of the limited chances as each team entered a shootout for the first time this season.

Each team's shooters scored in the first two rounds, including goals from Steel forwards Jack Dugan and Blake McLaughlin. McLaughlin tucked home a one-handed effort at the top of the crease past Zhukov's glove. Neither team scored in round three, and the shootout went to an extra session. After a scoreless fourth round, Bevilacqua picked the upper corner for the Gamblers, and Steel captain Derek Daschke was denied by Zhukov, ending the shootout, and giving Green Bay the road victory.

With the one point earned from the shootout loss, Chicago remains one point ahead of Green Bay atop the USHL's Eastern Conference standings.

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