MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks fell to the Chicago Steel in game two of the Eastern Conference Final, falling by a final of 5-4. The Steel win the best-of-three series two games to none and advance to their third Clark Cup Final in five years.
The Steel scored first, getting an early goal from Adam Fantilli and taking to 1-0 lead less than three minutes in. The Steel were the early aggressors, outshooting Muskegon in the early going. Goaltender Jan Skorpik kept Muskegon in the game with 12 first-period saves and the Jacks would answer late in the period. Danil Gushchin notched the game-tying goal on a breakaway, tying things up at one with less than two to go in the first.
The second period was a wild one that featured six goals and plenty of A+ chances. Muskegon fell behind 2-1, but took the 3-2 lead with goals just 48 seconds apart. First Cameron Berg ripped home his fourth of the postseason, and then Gushchin struck again to give the Jacks a 3-2 edge.
However, Coronato got the game tied right back up, capping off a stretch of just 1:20 in which three goals were scored.
Muskegon took the lead again on a Jacob Guevin power-play goal with 4:45 to go in the frame. Guevin’s point shot made it through traffic and beat netminder Simon Latkoczy, lifting Muskegon to the 4-3 lead.
Muskegon appeared to take a 5-3 lead when Berg found the back of the net again, but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference. The replay appeared to show Jacks forward Quinn Hutson collide with Latkoczy because he was pushed by Steel defenseman David Ma. However, the no-goal call was upheld after the officials talked it over.
After that, Coronato struck again, collecting his own rebound and depositing it into the net with only 13 seconds remaining in the second.
In the third, the Steel scored the game-winner midway through the frame. Fantilli danced in on a breakaway and beat Skorpik to push Chicago ahead 5-4. Muskegon clawed tooth and nail to tie things late, outshooting the Steel 10-5 in the third, but the Jacks were unable to find the equalizer.
Muskegon’s season concludes as one of the most special in team history, highlighted by Danil Gushchin’s record-breaking year. The star Russian now holds Lumberjacks records for points, goals and assists in a career.
Muskegon also scored more goals than ever before, scoring a franchise-record 241 times despite the shortened season.
Muskegon goals: Gushchin (2,3), Berg (4), Guevin (1)
Muskegon assists: Davis Pennington (1), Quinn Hutson (2,3), OwenMehlenbacher (1), Jack Williams (2), Gushchin (1), Tanner Kelly (3)