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Muskegon Lumberjacks continue to have all the answers in road win over Chicago

By Scott Brandenburg, 10/19/18, 11:30PM EDT


Muskegon ran its winning streak to start the season to seven with 5-3 win at Chicago

CHICAGO - The Chicago Steel gave the Muskegon Lumberjacks the battle they expected Friday.

And as they have all season thus far, the Lumberjacks had all the answers to Chicago's challenges.

Bobby Lynch provided the biggest goals to help Muskegon stave off the host Steel 5-3 to improve to a Unites States Hockey League franchise-best 7-0.

The Lumberjacks have now amassed 14 points, five points clear of second-place Dubuque and Central Illinois in the USHL's Eastern Conference.

The league leaders have the rest of the weekend off from game action and won't play again until a home-and-home with Team USA beginning next Friday, Oct. 26.

Each time the Lumberjacks scored a goal to take the lead at Fox Valley Ice Arena, the Steel responded with a game-tying goal.

Lynch though finally recorded a marker Chicago couldn't match 6:17 into the third period, with a little help from Colby Bukes and Mikael Hakkarainen.

It was Hakkarainen who finished the Steel off for good with a good hustle play to score into an empty net with 58 seconds remaining. Bukes assisted on the play.

But it was Lynch who gave the Lumberjacks the lift they needed late in the second period and early in the third.

With the game knotted at 2-all Lynch reestablished control for the guests with a burst into the Steel zone as the second period was winding down. He picked up speed as he crossed the blue line, dished to Egor Afansyev who fired a low slap-shot which produced a rebound in front of Steel goalie Justin Robbins, who couldn't find the puck.

Lynch never slowed down once he gained the zone and beat the Chicago defender and Robbins to the loose puck and easily knocked it into the net with 1:04 remaining in the period for a 3-2 lead.

Nick Abruzzese tied things up at 3-all 5:01 into the third period, but Lynch, the game's Number 1 star, struck again just 1:16 later for his third goal of the season and the game-winner.

Muskegon did a good job of limiting Chicago's scoring chances, but the hosts still scored three times in their 18 shots on goal.

The Lumberjacks outshot the Steel 26-18. Brandon Bussi stopped 15 shots to move to 7-0 on the season for the Lumberjacks.

Christoffer Bjork opened the scoring just 3:52 into the first period on assists from Danil Gushchin, his sixth of the season, and Hakkarainen.

The Steel quickly responded after an Afanasyev penalty 18 seconds later, tying the game at 1-all thanks to Matteo Pietroniro.

Afanasyev made up for the penalty with a goal of his own at 13:58 from Lynch.

Muskegon helped Chicago get back into the game with a couple of unforced penalties in the second period. Owen Farris committed a hooking penalty in the offensive zone and Bussi shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty 50 seconds later.

The Lumberjacks were able to kill off the 5-on-3 penalty killing situation, but the Steel took advantage of the extended power play as Neil Shea found the back of the net from Adam Robbins and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine at 14:36.

That just set the stage for Lynch's heroics, however.

Chicago finished 2-for-6 on the power play while the Muskegon man-advantage connected once in just two opportunities.