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PREVIEW - Jacks jaunt to Chicago for matchup with Steel

By Ryan Vallon, 09/29/21, 2:00PM EDT

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#12 Ben Strinden

Lumberjacks forward #12 Ben Strinden skates behind the net with the puck

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Muskegon Lumberjacks will travel to Geneva, Ill. for a single game matchup against the defending Clark Cup Champion Chicago Steel. The lone game is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2 at 8:05 p.m. ET at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

Saturday’s matchup against the Chicago Steel will mark the first time the two teams face off against each other since the second round of the 2021 Clark Cup Playoffs. In last season’s playoff series, the Steel edged out the Lumberjacks in both games of the best 2-of-3 series in tight one-goal game contests, and would eventually go on to capture their second championship since 2016-17.

Scouting the Steel

Leading the Steel is forward Adam Fantilli, who was named MVP from the Clark Cup Final. The Nobleton, Ontario native has scored in back-to-back games while simultaneously picking up an assist as well for three points in two games. Filling out their lethal top six are Jack Harvey and Jackson Blake, each of whom is already on the scoresheet after the 2021 Fall Classic. Harvey, a Stacy, Minn. native, managed to light the lamp in each game versus Fargo and Sioux Falls, respectively, while Blake picked up a goal in his team’s 6-to-1 win over Sioux Falls. Blake, son of former NHL’er Jason Blake, was picked by the Carolina Hurricanes in the Fourth Round, No. 109 overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

On the blueline, Luca Fantilli, Lukas Gustafsson and Jake Livanavage lead the way. Fantilli, the older brother of teammate Adam, has one assist through two games this season while both Gustaffson and Livanavage have two points each. 

In the goal crease, the Steel seem to have an uncrackable tandem with Nick Haas and Gibson Homer. Haas, a Williamsville, N.Y. native, returns to Chicago after backstopping his team to the Clark Cup while Homer, hailing from Grand Rapids, Mich. comes to Chicago after spending last season with the USNTP U18 team.

Once Upon a Time in the West

After playing two teams from the Western Conference, the Lumberjacks are looking to bounce back after a troubling weekend in the 2021 USHL Fall Classic in Pittsburgh where they only managed to pick up one point in the league standings. In the first game versus Sioux Falls on Saturday, forward Ben Strinden hit the twine twice, with an additional goal from Tyler Hotson. Ultimately, the Jacks fell to the Stampede in a shootout, losing the game 4-to-3. Netminder Jan Skorpik stopped 23 pucks in the shootout loss.

The following afternoon, Muskegon came up short against the Sioux City Musketeers, falling 5-to-2. The only Jacks to hit the scoresheet in Sunday’s game were Gavin McCarthy and Tom Sinclair, respectively. Goaltender Cameron Korpi made 27 saves in the regulation loss.

Captain Jack

Jack Williams was selected as the next captain of the Lumberjacks, with Phil Tresca and Ben Strinden chosen as alternate captains. Williams, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound forward skated in 58 games with the Lumberjacks during the 2020-21 regular season, totaling 18 goals and 20 assists for 38 points while registering 30 penalty minutes. The Biddeford, Maine native is committed to playing with the Northeastern University Huskies.

Four More Years

Mike Hamilton, recipient of the USHL Coach of the Year Award in 2021, will return for his fifth season behind the bench and a four-year contract extension, making him the longest-tenured coach in Lumberjacks history. The River Rouge, Mich. native is also the winningest coach in Lumberjacks history with a combined record of 135-82-12.

Jacks in the NHL Draft

The Jacks add an NHL draft pick to the roster with the addition of defenseman Noah Ellis. Committed to play at the University of Massachusetts, Ellis was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights No. 184 overall in the sixth round of the 2020 NHL Draft. The Urbandale, Iowa native appeared in 40 games with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers during the 2020-21 season, totaling five goals and 12 assists for 17 points.

Lumberjacks Broadcasts

Muskegon Lumberjacks games can be heard on Mixlr (Audio) and video can be streamed on available devices through HockeyTV (Video).

Opening Weekend - Flannel Fest

We’re kicking off our season with a bang on Oct. 15-16! Come down to night one of Flannel Fest and rock out with the AC/DC cover band “Let There Be Rock.” Plus, the first 100 adults to open an account with Family Financial Credit Union during Flannel Fest will become the proud owners of an exclusive white Lumberjacks jersey. You do NOT want to miss out on the biggest party of the Fall!

Flannel Fest rolls into Saturday! Night two will feature several exciting events for the whole family including hayrides, pumpkin carving/painting, axe throwing, and much more! Later, during the game's first intermission, watch your favorite teachers dash for cash to benefit local classrooms as the Lumberjacks take on the Chicago Steel! Single-game tickets are now on sale. For more information, call the Muskegon Lumberjacks Business office at (231)-799-7000 or email afranczek@muskegonlumberjacks.com.

Upcoming Games

Saturday, Oct. 2 | 8:05 pm ET | at Chicago

Saturday, Oct. 9 | 7:05 pm ET | at Team USA U18

Friday, Oct. 15 | 7:10 pm ET | vs. Chicago | Flannel Fest | BUY TICKETS

Saturday, Oct. 16 | 7:10 pm ET | vs. Chicago | Flannel Fest | BUY TICKETS

Follow the Jacks

Be sure to follow the Muskegon Lumberjacks on social media!

Facebook - Muskegon Lumberjacks

Twitter - @MuskegonJacks

Instagram - @muskegonjacks

Tik Tok - muskegonlumberjacks

About the Muskegon Lumberjacks

The Muskegon Lumberjacks are proud and dedicated members of the United States Hockey League (USHL), the nation’s only Tier I junior hockey league and leading producer of NCAA players and National Hockey League draft picks in the United States. The club’s goal is to create an environment where student-athletes develop into successful young men both on and off the ice, which includes playing the game the right way while keeping up with their studies in the classroom and staying actively involved in the West Michigan community. The organization is committed to providing quality, affordable, and top-notch family entertainment while providing positive role models for the youth for the local community.

NEXT GAME: at Chicago (10/2 @ 8:05 PM)

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