In the world of minor hockey, there are always underdog teams that surprise everyone and emerge as victors. These historic upsets and wins not only make for exciting games, but they also leave a lasting impact on the entire hockey community. One team that has had its fair share of memorable moments is the Chicago Steel.
Founded in 2000, the Chicago Steel is a Tier 1 Junior A ice hockey team based in Geneva, Illinois. The team competes in the United States Hockey League (USHL), the top junior ice hockey league in the United States. Over the years, the Steel has become known for its tenacity, determination, and ability to pull off unexpected wins, making them a fan favorite and a formidable opponent on the ice.
Today, we dive into the rich history of the Chicago Steel and relive some of their most memorable upsets and wins.
The Early Years: Building a Strong Foundation
The Chicago Steel entered the USHL in 2000 with a vision to develop top-tier junior players and compete for the Clark Cup, the league’s championship trophy. In the early years, the team focused on building a solid foundation. They recruited young, talented players and had a strong coaching staff to guide them.
One of the defining moments for the Steel in its early years was in the 2001-2002 season when they made a deep playoff run and played against the top-seeded team, the Danville Wings. Despite being the underdogs, the Steel shocked everyone by beating the Wings in six games and securing a spot in the semifinals. This was a monumental upset and set the tone for the team’s future success.
The 2006 Clark Cup: A Historic Win
In the 2005-2006 season, the Chicago Steel entered the playoffs as the third seed and went on to play against the top-seeded team, the Waterloo Blackhawks, in the Clark Cup Finals. The Blackhawks were a dominant team, having won the Clark Cup three times in the previous four years. The odds were against the Steel, but they refused to back down.
In Game 1 of the series, the Steel suffered a crushing 6-1 defeat. However, they bounced back in Game 2, winning 5-2 to even the series. The next three games were close, with each team winning by one goal. In Game 6, everything came down to the wire, and the Steel emerged as the victors with a final score of 2-1. With this win, the Chicago Steel became Clark Cup champions for the first time in their history. It was a historic moment that will forever be etched in the team’s history.
The 2007-2008 Season: A Record-Breaking Streak
The 2007-2008 season was a standout year for the Chicago Steel. Led by head coach Steve Poapst, the team went on a record-breaking 20 game winning streak, the longest in USHL history. Their impressive streak propelled them to the top of the league standings, and they entered the playoffs as the first seed.
In the Clark Cup Finals, the Steel played against the Omaha Lancers, and it was a back-and-forth series. After five games, the series was tied 2-2, and everything came down to the final game. In a nail-biting showdown, the Steel emerged victorious, winning the Clark Cup for the second time in just three years. The team had not only broken records but also solidified their place as one of the top teams in the USHL.
A Memorable Comeback: 2016-2017 Season
After a few years of rebuilding, the Chicago Steel made a comeback in the 2016-2017 season. Led by head coach Dan Muse, the team had a strong roster of players and set their sights on the Clark Cup once again. In the playoffs, they faced the second-seeded Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the semifinals.
The series went back and forth, with both teams winning on their home ice. In Game 5, the Steel suffered a 3-0 defeat, putting them on the brink of elimination. However, they refused to go down without a fight. In Game 6, they made a dramatic comeback, winning 6-2 and forcing a deciding Game 7. In an intense, physical game, the Steel emerged as the victors with a final score of 2-1. It was a memorable comeback and a testament to the team’s resilience and determination.
Raising the Cup Once Again: The 2019-2020 Championship Season
The most recent moment in the Chicago Steel’s history was during the 2019-2020 season. Led by head coach Brock Sheahan, the team had a formidable lineup of young, talented players. And they proved their worth on the ice.
With a record-breaking regular season, the Steel entered the playoffs as the first seed and faced the Sioux Falls Stampede in the Clark Cup Finals. After dropping the first game, the Steel won the next three games to clinch the championship. It was their third Clark Cup title and a fitting end to a dominant season.
Reliving these historic upsets and winning moments is a reminder of the Chicago Steel’s legacy and impact on the world of minor hockey. Their determination, resilience, and never-give-up attitude have earned them a place in the hearts of fans and a spot in the history books.