Steel Snap Skid with 5-2 Win
Five different players scored as the Chippewa Steel defeated the Kenai River Brown Bears 5-2 at the C.I.A. on Saturday night. The victory ends a two-game skid for the Steel and improves the team's record to 2-5-0.
One night after special teams undid them, the Steel got an outstanding performance from those units. The power play connected twice while the penalty kill nullifed both of the Brown Bear chances.
After the Brown Bears scored first on a breakaway goal from Porter Schalcle 14:05 into the first period the Steel answered with a little luck.
While on the power play, Brock Baker's shot from the right circle fluttered off Ian Famulak's shoulder and off Kenai River's own Reid Ryan and past the netminder.
Chippewa took the lead in the second period with consecutives goals from Connor Ronayne and Connor McGrath to go up 3-1.
Kenai River tied the game on a Morgan Winters' goal later in the period at 3-2 the score sat entering the third period.
The Steel wasted no time expanding the lead as Leo Bacallo tallied Chippewa's fourth goal just 21 seconds into the period. The goal is the first opening minute score of the season for the team.
A power play goal later in the period from Ethan Benz capped the scoring at 5-2 Chippewa.
Late Goal Downs Steel
The 2021 calendar year has started the same way 2020 ended for the Chippewa Steel. With a loss.
Devlin McCabe's breakaway goal with 6:38 remaining gave the Minnesota Magicians a 4-3 lead that ended up being the final score Friday night at the C.I.A
The outcome spoiled a strong night in goal by Steel rookie Gus Bylin who made 46 saves, including a perfect 24 saves in the second period.
The Steel rallied three separate times to tie the score but could never overtake Minnesota and eventually the fourth deficit was one too many.
Minnesota did their damage on special teams, but in an unorthodox fashion. The Magicians scored twice while short-handed and even the game winner came moments after a penalty had expired.
Chippewa had opportunities for momentum, especially in the second period. Despite being heavily outshot, the Steel killed off a five minute major penalty and also two minutes of a two-skater disadvantage.
The Steel briefly thought they actually had a 3-2 lead in the second period when Brock Baker scored while being hauled down. Baker was spun around and as he landed on his backside, scored without looking as he and a Magicians' defender banged into the goal knocking it loose.
However, the goal was waived off.
Chippewa is now 1-5 on the season with a home game scheduled for Saturday vs. Kenai River.
Steel Return from Layoff with Loss
The Chippewa Steel returned from a 46 day layoff on Thursday at the CIA with a 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Magicians. Playing their first game of this unorthodox season, the Magicians led nearly wire to wire as they got two goals each from Trevor Kukkonen, Henry Longhi and Lelyton Roed.
Playing his first Junior A game (after playing sparingly at Colby College last year) goaltender Andy Beran fought through 27 saves to earn the victory.
Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Steel responded to tie the game before the end of the first period. Ryan Waltman scored into an empty net following a scramble and Braden Lindstrom deflected a Spencer Cox shot later to knot the score.
However, the Magicians scored twice in the opening three minutes of the second period, and made it 5-2 midway through the period to take control. Chippewa was held to 16 shots on goal after the first period as Minnesota did a good job defensively limiting chances.
The Steel are 1-4-0 on the season with the teams scheduled to play each other again Friday at 7:10pm at the CIA. Chippewa concluded the week with a game at home vs. Kenai River Saturday.
The remainder of the schedule hasn't been announced.
COVID-19 Sick Leave Vote Delayed
On Monday, the Eau Claire Area School District Board did not vote on proposals in relation to extensions and adjustments to sick leave benefits related to COVID-19. This is because the local decisions would mirror the federal legislation in the new COVID-19 relief package. Basically, a continuation of the Families First Federal Coronavirus Relief Act.
Instead the board voted in favor (with one no, and one absent) to go with the federal plan from Jan. 1, 2021 until it expires.
Employees within the district are afforded sick leave benefits most notably when they are prevented from working due to needing to supervise their own children if their school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.
ECASD BOARD TO DECIDE ON COVID-19 LEAVE
The Eau Claire Area School District Board is scheduled to meet virtually on Monday night and is expected to vote on a proposal to extend paid leave benefits to employee absences related to COVID-19. Two options have been presented with one covering 20 days and another 10 days. In each option, employees would receive full pay if they are have been exposed or are caring for an exposed individual. Employees would receive 2/3 pay if they must miss work because they're caring for a child whose school or day care has been closed due to COVID-19.
CHIPPEWA STEEL NEARING RETURN
Eau Claire Hometown Media has learned that the Chippewa Steel, sidelined from play since mid-November, are anticipating a return to the ice as early as December 31st. The expectation is that the current schedule of games will be altered to some degree. When play will resume and to what extent the schedule will be changed hasn't been decided but an announcement is hoped to be made prior to Christmas.
The Steel season was paused prior to a November 20-21 home series vs. Fairbanks. No official reason was given at the time, but shortly thereafter the entire Midwest Division of the North American Hockey League announced a suspension of play that coincided with the State of Minnesota's decision to ban most amateur athletic competitions.
The State of Minnesota recently announced that ban, set to have originally expired on Friday December 18th will extend to January 4th at which time Governor Tim Walz has said sports will be able to resume.
The order impacts four teams based in the state along with Fairbanks and Kenai River, the two Alaska teams that have set up shop in the state this season.
Chippewa is 1-3-0 after opening the season with four home games vs. Kenai River at the start of November.
The pause postponed 11 Steel games through Dec. 19th