Two years removed from winning the Clark Cup championship as USHL champions, the Chicago Steel are locked in a tight battle to reclaim the prize as they battle the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the Eastern Conference Final.
The Steel, who finished with the second-best record in the conference this season, split the first two games of the best-of-five series with the Lumberjacks, and now with the scene shifting to the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, the team is hoping to keep up their run of strong play.
“It’s action-packed, and it’s a lot of fun to watch,” Steel head coach Greg Moore said.
Winger Robert Mastrosimone led the team in scoring during the regular season, with 31 goals to his credit. He ended up second on the team in points however, as center Nick Abruzzese scored 29 goals and dished out a dazzling 51 assists in 62 contests. The talented forward is still going strong in the postseason, with five goals and six assists in six postseason games.
Another player on the team worth keeping an eye on is forward Josiah Slavin, who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
“It’s pretty cool living here and seeing that my future could be here,” he said.
Slavin’s brother Jaccob is helping to fuel the dreams of his sibling, as his Carolina Hurricanes are one win away from the Eastern Conference Final. Slavin has 12 assists in 10 playoff games so far. While Jaccob is chasing the Stanley Cup, Josiah is chasing his own dreams as the Clark Cup could potentially return to Chicago’s suburbs.
“It’s a special intensity, and there’s more energy than guys have normally,” he said. “It’s cool to watch.”
If the Steel can win two more games, they will get the chance to play in the Clark Cup Final, and hoist the trophy for the second time in three seasons.
“It would be surreal to play for a Clark Cup,” Mastrosimone said. “The guys are really amped up to win this series and to get there.”