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Chicago Steel Move to Conference Final

After a nail-biter in Game 1, the Chicago Steel enjoyed a comfortable cushion much of Game 2, defeating the Dubuque Fighting Saints 6-1 Saturday night at Fox Valley Ice Arena to sweep the two-game series and advance to the club’s third Eastern Conference Final appearance in the last four Clark Cup Playoffs.

The Steel scored the first three goals of the game over the first 22 minutes and led by at least two goals the rest of the night.

Forward Matt Coronato earned a four-point outing with two goals and two assists, jumping to the top of the Clark Cup Playoffs scoring leaders with six points (3G, 3A) in two games.

The Steel unleashed a 20-shot opening frame on Dubuque netminder Lukas Parik, getting his second consecutive start in net.

Parik was able to hold his net until the second Steel power play of the game, just past the halfway point of the first.

Working on the perimeter of the man advantage, Jack Bar slid the puck to Ian Moore who found Samoskevich on top of the left circle. The University of Michigan commit dropped to a knee to tee off on a one-timer, deflecting off Parik into the back of the net.

Holding a 1-0 cushion with time ticking down in the first, defenseman Ryan Ufko showed off his offensive skill. The blueliner from Smithtown, N.Y., used a curl and drag move to get around his defender from the left point, bringing the puck to the doorstep and beating Parik for his first Clark Cup Playoffs goal.

Chicago continued the offensive onslaught in the middle frame with three more goals.

Just two minutes into the period, Coronato lit the lamp for the second time in as many games. The Harvard University commit fired a wrister that got a piece of Parik and dribbled across the goal line near the right post.

Kenny Connors cut the Chicago lead to two goals on Dubuque’s only power play goal of the series. After a net-front scramble, Connors jumped on a loose puck to score his first goal of the postseason.

Tempers began to flare with traffic in front of the Dubuque net midway through the second. Steel captain Erik Middendorf was involved in a scrum that resulted in a Steel power play after his helmet was ripped off.

On the ensuing man advantage, Ufko and Coronato moved the puck to Sean Farrell who was all alone in the left circle. Farrell waited with the puck then chose his moment, firing high on Parik’s blocker side for his first marker of the postseason.

Adam Fantilli provided the highlight of the night on a transition goal, putting the Steel up 5-1. The forward from Nobleton, Ontario, went coast-to-coast, finishing with a move that turned Dubuque defenseman Henry Thrun inside-out, then tucking the puck home.

The final goal of the night came on a power play, giving the Steel a 3-for-6 (50.0%) performance on the man advantage. Coronato used a Dubuque defender as a screen, sneaking a puck over Parik to secure a 6-1 edge.

Chicago goaltender Simon Latkoczy made 24 saves in net, his second consecutive game allowing just one goal.

In six meetings at Fox Valley Ice Arena against Dubuque this season, this was the only game that was not decided by a single goal.

The Steel next square off against the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the Eastern Conference Final, marking the third Clark Cup Playoffs confrontation between the two clubs, with both prior series won by Chicago (2018, 2019). The best-of-three series begins Friday, May 7 at Fox Valley Ice Arena with a 7:05 pm CT puck drop.

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