Defense took center stage in Chicago on Friday night as the Steel downed the Saints 2-0 behind the first USHL shutout in the career of Victor Ostman. Erik Middendorf scored the only goal of the game against Erik Portillo midway through the second period and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine added an empty-net goal to give Chicago their first win of the season over Dubuque. In a battle of top 5 teams on offense and defense, the defense won out.
-In a game that featured 14 combined power plays, neither team was able to crack the code a man up. Dubuque’s penalty kill was 8 for 8 and Chicago was 6 for 6 in the game. Dubuque gained a huge man up opportunity with just two minutes left in regulation, but Chicago nullified them with an empty-netter quickly.
-Chicago was held in check by Dubuque’s stifling defense and the great net minding of Erik Portillo. In Portillo’s first USHL action in over a month at the USHL level, he was able to stop all but one Chicago shot.
-The game was fast paced, but penalties on other side slowed things down throughout. This was the second game of the season in which Dubuque and their opponent combined for 14 penalties or more.
-Even though Dubuque couldn’t find the back of the net, their defensive effort was something to build off of. They held Chicago to their lowest goal output since the winter break, a span in which Chicago had scored 30 goals in four games.
-The Steel were even better on defense, limiting Dubuque’s quick skating with sharp skating of their own. The Steel used their quick feet more so than physicality to take away time and space for Dubuque.
-Ty Jackson and Antonio Venuto both led the Saints in shots with four in the game. Venuto looked dangerous shorthanded for the Fighting Saints. As the game went on, both teams looked better shorthanded than they did on the power play.
-Dubuque and Chicago will be back in action tomorrow night in Dubuque as the Saints and the Steel finish off their weekend series. Dubuque will be looking for a split, while the Steel will look to continue their current win streak and extend it to 11 games with a win.