Friday, January 9, 2009

Report Card: Chicago Steel

Team Record: 15-13-1

Total Points: 31

Goal Leader: Andrew Miller - 21

Assist Leader: Andrew Miller - 28

Points Leader: Andrew Miller - 49

PIM Leader: Ryan Schnell - 97

+/- Leader: Andrew Miller - +9

Wins Leader: Hudson Stremmel - 10

Chicago had a lot of question marks going into the season in goal. They had lost their workhorse in Rob Madore and backup, Nick Pisellini, opted to head to college late. This left the Steel with no returning goalies and a lot of goalies to look at. Following their camp, the goalies on the team were Matt Delaney and Hudson Stremmel. Delaney looked like a nice find for Coach Poapst, but as the season grew on a little, Delaney appeared to be letting more soft goals in and becoming more frustrated. He has since been shipped off to the NAHL's Motor City Machine. I'd look for him to make a return effort to the USHL come next season. Hudson Stremmel is a young kid and he was able to step in and keep the Steel in a majority of their games. Recently, Nick Pisellini returned from college and has been manning the pipes for Chicago. He's had a rough start so far, but his numbers were outstanding in college, so I have to believe it's only a matter of time before Pisellini starts posting some excellent numbers for the Steel.

Chicago's defense boasts a couple big name players in John Moore and Max Nicastro. Nicastro was a Red Wings draft pick last season and Moore is a potential first round selection this season. Nicastro is the type that's not going to wow you with his offensive skills, but he's very solid in all aspects of the game. I think Detroit got a nice player and if they allow him to continue to develop, they will be very happy. Moore was a late addition to the team last season, and has been turning heads since. A guy who doesn't seem to get much attention that I've taken a liking to is Kevin Lind. Lind was a futures pick for Chicago, and they brought him in while a few players were suspended. He's been with the team ever since and has played well, despite being just 16 years old. Brett Kostolansky is a solid guy as well. He's small, but plays his position quite well and is very speedy.

Chicago has made a couple of trades that have helped them out. Brett Beebe is a guy they brought in from Waterloo and he has been a solid contributer since his arrival. He has posted 10 points in 14 games with Chicago, while posting 0 points in 7 games for Waterloo. The other was Dean Chelios. He wasn't putting up much for points in Cedar Rapids, but he has exploded ever since his trade to Chicago. He was placed on a line with Andrew Miller and Eric Alexander, and they have been one of the most deadly lines in the league. Miller leads the league in scoring, with 49 points in 28 games. He has failed to register multiple points in just 12 games, including going scoreless in only 3 of those games. If Miller isn't at the top of the points when the season ends, it will be because something crazy happened like an injury or he quit hockey. Mark Anthoine is the type of player you love to have. He seems to fly under the radar, but he's a hard-nosed hockey player that's not afraid to go in corners and battle in front for the puck. The Steel, in my opinion, need consistency from their goalies and they are going to be a force the rest of the way. I feel their forwards and defense are really good and can compete with anyone in the league.

Grade: B-

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