MUSKEGON, MI- Hunter Skinner scored twice and Nic Belpedio potted the overtime winner as the defensemen led the offense in a 5-4 Muskegon Lumberjacks victory at LC Walker Arena Saturday.
The game featured two lead changes and four ties, but Muskegon had the last laugh when tender Alex Gaffney found Belpedio netfront on an overtime two-on-one. Belpedio punched it in, lifting the Jacks to a sweep over the Steel in their preseason home-and-home series.
Muskegon opened the scoring in the first when rookie forward Alex Trombley drove the left wing and shoved the puck through the wickets of Steel goalie Reilly Herbst.
The Steel would answer back when Jake Schmaltz located a loose puck at the side of the net and whacked it past Jacks’ goalie Brandon Bussi to tie the score at one.
Later in the first, Muskegon would regain the lead on a Skinner’s first goal. The second-year defenseman received a pass at the point, shook a defender and walked into the right circle, rifling a wrist shot off of Herbst and in.
However, Chicago would tie it at two when Cole Kodsi lit the lamp with six minutes to play in the first.
In the second, Chicago notched the lone goal of the period, a Matthew Barnaby score that gave the Steel their first lead at 3-2.
Less than two minutes into the third, Egor Afanasyev buried a stellar one-timer as he fell to the ice, re-tying the contest.
In the middle of third, the Lumberjacks’ penalty killers came up with three straight kills that included 55 seconds of five-on-three time. Nolan Sullivan was a critical part of the PK, and won two crucial faceoffs in the defensive zone.
Skinner registered his second of the game midway through the third, and it appeared to be the game-winner, but Chicago tied it at four with less than two minutes to go.
Belpedio and Gaffney combined for the overtime winner, pushing the Jacks to 2-0-0 this preseason.
Muskegon outshot Chicago 37-34. The Jacks next take the ice Wednesday at 5:30pm against Team USA. Due to ongoing renovations at LC Walker Arena, the game will not be open to the public. However, the Jacks’ preseason finale on September 22 will be open to the public and free of charge.
Muskegon goals: Trombley (1), Skinner (1,2), Afanasyev (1), Belpedio (1)
Muskegon assists: Jagger Joshua (1), Cam McDonald (1), Azzaro Tinling (1), Nolan Sullivan (1,2), Randy Hernandez (1), Belpedio (2)