CHICAGO IL- Despite dominating zone time for the first forty minutes, the Muskegon Lumberjacks fell Friday night to the Chicago Steel, who scored four unanswered goals in the third period to down the Lumberjacks 6-4. Danil Gushchin scored a hat trick, including his 30th goal of the year.
Despite the loss, Dubuque beat Green Bay 8-4, meaning the Lumberjacks have clinched 2nd place and have home ice advantage for the first round of the Clark Cup playoffs.
The first period was told by special teams. Josh Doan went bar down on a Chicago man advantage at 7:37 giving the Steel the early 1-0 lead. However, Muskegon responded with a power play goal of their own on a tic-tac-toe goal put home by Quinn Hutson at 12:40, making the score 1-1.
Doan nearly scored again shorthanded, but Nate Reid slammed the door. After some extracurriculars, the teams went 3 on 3 for a brief bit. This pseudo-overtime was short lived as Gushchin rifled one home off a Steel giveaway, making it 2-1 at 19:12, rounding out the first period.
Muskegon had a brief power play that was unsuccessful, but shortly thereafter Gushchin’s shot bounced off a Chicago player and into the back of the net, 3-1 at 4:44.
Muskegon strongly controlled the possession in the frame, clamping down on the Chicago blue line and not giving up much offensively. After a Muskegon power play, a 2 on 1 for the Steel gave Doan his second of the game at 14:34, making it 3-2 Lumberjacks. The goal energized both teams with players streaking up and down the ice.
The Steel came out strong to start the third, evening the game at 1:21 on a wicked wrist shot, 3-3. Despite this, Gushchin bounced right back on the wraparound goal at 2:00, 4-3 Muskegon.
Chicago got a couple power play chances, where Nate Reid proceeded to stand on his head, but it was not enough to stop Doan from scoring his own hat trick and tying the game again at 8:38, 4-4.
A 2 on 1 midway through the period gave Chicago their first lead of the night at 11:22. The Steel extended their lead to two at 12:08, Doan’s fourth of the night, 6-4 Chicago, closing out the scoring.
The Lumberjacks play Chicago again tomorrow night at 8:05pm EST in their final regular season game.
Playoff tickets are on sale now for Friday, April 30th (7pm) Saturday, March 1st (7pm) and Sunday, March 2nd (5pm if necessary). Adult tickets purchased before April 25th are just $15! Tickets are limited and can be purchased at www.muskegonlumberjacks.com/tickets. For more information, please call the Muskegon Lumberjacks Business Office at (231) 799-7000
Muskegon Goals: Hutson (15), Gushchin (30,31,32)
Muskegon Assists: Nick Portz (22), Cristophe Tellier (32), Jacob Guevin (36), Tyler Dunbar (6)