By: Joel Rains, nusteelhockey.com
The New Ulm Steel played host to their divisional rival, the Granite City Lumberjacks, Friday night. The Lumberjacks and Steel have met four times so far this season, and the Steel were still looking for their first win over them this season.
The first period of hockey was scoreless, but not without some hard hits and fast skating action. Each team got a power play opportunity, but neither team could find a goal.
What coach Stepan said in the first period intermission must have stuck with the Steel, as just 12 seconds into the second period, the Steel got on the board. The goal didn’t last long as the refs canceled it out, saying the goal frame was dislodged off the pegs. Josh Baker didn’t want any part of that ruling as he knocked his 8th goal of the year in, seven seconds after the no-goal call.
40 seconds later, the Lumberjacks put up a tying goal off Carson Simon’s stick, his 22nd of the season. Just over 90 seconds later, it was a power play opportunity that Keegan Bauman struck on, putting in his 21st goal of the season.
With just two and half minutes played, the two teams put in three goals, with the Steel being up 2-1. The Steel penalty kill was perfect through the two periods, shutting the power play of the Lumberjacks down three times.
Keegan Bauman delivered the game-winning goal in the second period, but it was James Spaargaren who knocked in the game-ending goal, an empty netter with four seconds to go to give the Steel a 3-1 lead, their 11th straight win and their first win over the Lumberjacks all year.
Igor Samokhavalov delivered a performance worthy of 1st star of the game shutting down 35 shots of the 36 he faced, alongside a Steel win.
The Steel looked to extend their winning streak to 12 as they hosted the Breezy Point North Stars on Saturday. With a snowstorm looming overnight, the two teams took to the ice and delivered a three goal first period.
Joey Gimberlin got the scoring going early as he knocked in his 10th goal of the season, just 3:30 into the game. The North Stars didn’t go away quietly as Brett Reed scored his first goal of the season, and 10 minutes later scored his second goal to give the North Stars a 2-1 lead heading into the 1st period intermission.
After being down 2-1 after 20 minutes of hockey, the Steel leveled the game at 2 on a power-play goal by Jacob Halvorson, scoring his team leading 29th goal of the year. The North Stars would answer on a power-play goal of their own off the stick of Laauli Tosi, making it a 3-2 North Stars lead. It didn’t end there for the North Stars as Brett Reed knocked in another goal giving him a hattrick on the night and the North Stars a 4-2 leading entering into the final 20 minutes of the game.
The Steel entered Saturday’s game with seven come from behind wins all year and they would need to make it eight to extend a team-high 11 straight wins, and they did just that.
A three goal third period led the Steel all the way to a 5-4 win over the North Stars. It started with Parker Dorn’s third goal of the season 8:41 into the final period of hockey. Jacob Halvorson got his second of the game just two minutes later to tie it. After hitting the crossbar on two different shot attempts, Nick Wieben finally knocked in his 19th goal of the season, in what would be the game-winning goal with 33 seconds remaining as the Steel came back from 4-2 down in the third period to go on to win 5-4.
The Steel clinched a playoff spot Saturday night along with extending their league-high winning streak to 12 straight games.