GENEVA, IL- The Muskegon Lumberjacks scored with just 29 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but fell in the extra period to the Chicago Steel in game four of the Eastern Conference Final.
With the 3-2 overtime victory, Chicago wins the best-of-five series three games to one, and advances to their second Clark Cup Final in three years.
Chicago forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine was the hero, scoring just 1:13 into overtime to win it for the Steel. Fontaine scored twice in the win, and his four goals in the series were tied for the most of any player.
Despite falling short of reaching their second-ever Clark Cup Final, Muskegon set records for wins, points and goals scored during the 2018-19 season, and the Jacks reached the Conference Finals for just the second time in franchise history.
After 45 minutes of scoreless action, Chicago’s Nick Abruzzese opened the scoring five minutes into the third period with a power-play goal, his league-leading seventh playoff score. Abruzzese’s four goals were tied with Fontaine for the most among all players in the series.
Muskegon would nearly immediately tie it with a power-play tally of their own 1:50 later. Egor Afanasyev beat Steel netminder Justin Robbins to knot the game at one with 12:45 left in the third.
The tie was shot-lived, however. Chicago’s Gunnarwolfe Fontaine rapidly answered, scoring his third goal of the series with 8:51 left in regulation.
Trailing 2-1, head coach Mike Hamilton pulled goalie Brandon Bussi, and it paid off with a last-minute game-tying goal. Ryan Savage pushed the game to extra time with 29 seconds to play, scoring his second goal of the postseason.
However, early in overtime, Fontaine struck, sending Chicago to the Clark Cup Final where they will face the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Muskegon outshot Chicago 32-16, and were not outshot in any game this postseason.
Muskegon goals: Afanasyev (2), Savage (2)
Muskegon assists: Mikael Hakkarainen (4,5), Alex Yakovenko (6), Afanasyev (5)