YOUNGSTOWN, OH- The Muskegon Lumberjacks fell to the Youngstown Phantoms, 5-3, in the regular-season finale, but captain Anthony Del Gaizo made history by tallying his 40th goal of the season and 100th career point.
Del Gaizo struck less than two minutes into the game, one-timing a puck past Youngstown goalie Ivan Prosvetov to give Muskegon a 1-0 lead. The goal gives him the USHL scoring title, besting Omaha’s Filip Suchy with 72 points on the season.
Del Gaizo’s season is among the best in USHL tier-one history. Since 2002, only four other players have reached the 40-goal plateau, and three of them (Del Gaizo, Rem Pitlick, Matt Iacopelli) have done it while wearing a Muskegon uniform.
Anthony will finish his Lumberjacks career as one of the best ever to don the sawblade, becoming the fourth Jack to record 100 points in his career. He’ll carry momentum into the playoffs: Anthony has recorded a point in 14 of his last 15 games.
Anthony’s history-making night was accompanied by Muskegon finding out who their first-round playoff opponent will be: the Chicago Steel.
Muskegon will host the defending champion Steel in a series that begins Monday night at 7:15pm at LC Walker Arena.
The Steel earned the point they needed against Central Illinois tonight, getting the final playoff spot in the East on the regular season’s final night.
Tickets for the first round are now on sale at the LC Walker Arena box office, and via phone at 231-726-2400. Game one on Monday will be followed by game two on Tuesday, and, if necessary, game three Wednesday.
Tonight also marked the USHL debuts for forward Max Sasson and Oliver MacDonald, who drew into the lineup tonight in the absence of many Muskegon starters, who sat out tonight’s game that had no impact on the Eastern Conference standings.
In addition to Del Gaizo’s historic night, Will Schlagenhauf stood out for Muskegon, notching his second-straight multi-point game. Schlagenhauf notched two assists, boosting his season total to ten points.
Cam Knuble scored for the first time in a Muskegon sweater, tallying in the first period to make it 2-0 Jacks.
Vincent de Mey recorded a power-play goal, and the free-agent acquisition finishes the regular season with 21 goals and 38 points.
Colby Bukes was one of the healthy scratches tonight for Muskegon, missing his first game as a Lumberjack. Bukes had suited up for 119 consecutive games. For the first time in his career, John LaFontaine coached behind the Muskegon bench without Bukes in the lineup.
Zach Borgiel fell to 5-3-0 in net, making 21 saves on 25 Youngstown shots. Muskegon outshot Youngstown 36-26.
Youngstown’s Eric Esposito scored a hat trick in the game, including an empty-netter with seven seconds to play that sealed the Phantoms’ 5-3 win.
Muskegon goals: A. Del Gaizo (40), Knuble (2), de Mey (21)
Muskegon assists: Alex Yakovenko (14,15), Schlagenhauf (6,7), Egor Afanasyev (7)