The Chicago Steel improved to 2-0 at the Junior Club World Cup after a 3-2 win over Latvia’s HK Liga. The Steel and Avtomobilist, Chicago’s opponent Thursday night, are the two remaining undefeated teams in Group A.
Chicago native Ryan Blankemeier opened the scoring with a goal 36 seconds into the first period. Blankemeier is currently committed to Dartmouth University, and has been the USHL Blogger while in Russia. HK Liga battled back and responded with a goal of their own, but the Steel would regain the lead late off a Brandon Duhaime one-time power play goal.
Goaltender John Lethemon kept the Steel in the game after two highlight reel saves in the second period. Lethemon, a Michigan State commit, stopped a one-timer with a sweeping glove save and then followed it up with a breakaway save to keep the score at 2-1 entering the third period.
HK Liga reinvigorated a hostile crowd with a goal early in the third period. The Steel battled on the penalty kill, including a 5-on-3 power play opportunity for HK Liga, to keep the game at 2-2 when Marc Johnstone drew a penalty with five minutes left in the game. Medina, MN native Max Zimmer scored the eventual game-winning goal off the following faceoff for a 3-2 lead. Lethemon and the Steel defense kept the lead in hand until time expired.
Thursday’s 7:00 PM (9:00 AM CT) game will be broadcasted live on YouTube against Russia’s Auto. The USHL will announce the live broadcast link prior to the start of the game. Both teams are leading Group A with 2-0 records. The Steel are attempting to continue breaking IIHF history as the USHL has been the only league to have four representatives medal in the Junior Club World Cup. Medal rounds begin Friday, August 28th and will conclude on Sunday, August 30th. Times for Semifinal and Gold/Bronze Medal Games will be announced by the IIHF.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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