GENEVA, Ill. | The Clark Cup will be hoisted Tuesday night in Sioux City after the Musketeers’ Eeli Tolvanen and Kristian Pospisil scored in the final 2:57 of the game Saturday night to keep their season alive and defeat the Chicago Steel 5-4 in Game 4 of the Clark Cup Final at the Fox Valley Ice Arena Saturday night.
With the series now knotted up 2-2, the teams return to Sioux City for a winner-take-all Game 5.
As was the case in Games 2 and 3, the Steel struck first, scoring twice in the opening period to take an early 2-0 lead on goals from the Steel’s Mitch Lewandowski and Jake Jaremko.
The Musketeers battled back for the first time during a wild second period that saw the teams combine for five goals.
Sioux City coach Jay Varady said his team didn’t panic during the first intermission.
“The message was you have 40 minutes of hockey to play with your lives on the line, so lets get after it. Pretty simple.”
Sioux City did just that, opening the scoring in the middle frame when forward Aapeli Rasanen shot the puck past the sprawling Steel netminder Ales Stezka to cut the deficit to 2-1 just 2:37 into the middle frame. It was Rasanen’s second goal of the playoffs, with fellow Boston College commit Eeli Tolvanen and Carson Vance picking up the assists.
Skating with more confidence, the Musketeers scored again 10:02 into the second period. Right as a minor penalty on Chicago expired, the Steel turned the puck over in front of its net and Sioux City’s Phillip Knies was there to pounce on the opportunity, grabbing the loose puck and burying it past Stezka to tie the game at 2-2. It was an unassisted goal for Knies, his third of the playoffs.
The game was knotted up, but not for long. It was Chicago’s turn to score, and less than a minute later it had regained the lead. A nice feed from Lutz found Jaremko, who potted his second goal of the game to put the Steel back in front, 3-2, just 56 seconds after Sioux City had tied it.
Lutz would strike again, scoring seconds into a Chicago power play with 1:13 remaining in the second stanza to get the lead back to two goals.
That lead would also be short lived, however. With 43 seconds left in the second, and the Steel perhaps already thinking about heading to the locker room, the Musketeers’ Odeen Tufto took a feed from Kristian Pospisil on the doorstep of the Steel goal and tapped it past Stezka to cut the deficit to 4-3 for Sioux City after two periods.
“I don’t know what the turning point was. It was back and forth all night,” Varady said. “Our ability to push back in the second was a key moment.”
The score would remain 4-3 until late in the third period when Tolvanen and Pospisil scored less than two minutes apart to send the series back to Sioux City.
Tolvanen scored the game-tying goal with 2:57 remaining, going five hole on Stezka on his backhand after knocking down a puck at mid ice and skating into the Chicago zone all alone.
With the crowd of 2,159 still stunned, Pospisil blasted home the game-winner with just 1:09 remaining.
“You got to find a way at the end and I thought we were able to do that tonight,” Varady said of the come-from-behind victory.
The Steel had several great scoring chances with the goalie pulled in the final minute, but Sioux City goalie Matiss Kivlenieks stood tall and turned aside all the shots to preserve the victory.
Puck drop for Game 5 is slated for 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at the Tyson Events Center.
Sioux City 5, Chicago 4
First period: 1, Chicago - Mitch Lewandowski (Brannon McManus, Ben Mirageas) power play 10:06. 2, Chicago - Jake Jaremko (Reggie Lutz, Derek Daschke) 11:53. Penalties: Ferrario, SC, interference, 9;22; McManus, C, tripping, 19:06.
Second period: 3, Sioux City - Aapeli Rasanen (Eeli Tolvanen, Carson Vance) 2:37. 4, Sioux City - Phillip Knies 10:02. 5, Chicago - Jaremko (Lutz, McManus) 10:58. 6, Chicago - Lutz (Graham Lillibridge, Marc Johnstone) power play, 18:47. 7, Sioux City - Odeen Tufto (Kristian Pospisil) 19:16. Penalties: Lewandowski, C, holding, 7:59; Keane, SC, boarding, 11:18; Kelleher, SC, 18:36.
Third period: 8, Sioux City - Tolvanen (Kneis) 17:07. 9, Sioux City - Pospisil (Joey Matthews) 18:51
Score by period:
Shots by period:
Power play: Sioux City 0 for 2; Chicago 2 for 3
Goaltenders: Matiss Kivlenieks, Sioux City, 22 shots, 18 saves; Ales Stezka, Chicago, 32 shots, 27 saves
Referees: Jim White and Liam Sewell. Linesmen: Rhodes Dolan and John Tallieu.