By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks seemed well on their way to a win against first-place Tri-City on Friday night.

They grabbed a late advantage with 3:59 remaining in regulation on a goal by Anthony Del Gaizo.

But Tri-City stormed right back with a goal with 28 seconds left to tie the game, before winning the contest 3-2 in an overtime shootout at L.C Walker Arena in front of 1,658 fans.

The two teams will face off in a rematch on Saturday night at 7:15 p.m.

The Jacks, who were outscored in the shootout by a 2-0 margin, are now 3-4-1 on the season and in a sixth-place tie in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.

Muskegon captain Anthony Del Gaizo controls the puck along the boards. Photo/Jason Goorman

“There is just a little funk where we can’t close some of these games out,” said Lumberjacks coach John LaFontaine. “But you know we keep getting better.

“We did a lot of good things today and I’d like to focus on them, such as beating them to the puck, back checking well and after two periods we didn’t give up too many shots.”

The Lumberjacks outshot Tri-City by a 29-25 margin, but allowed 11 shots in the third period alone. Goalkeeper Adam Brizgala was great in net for Muskegon, stopping 24 of 26 shots on the night.

“Another great game,” LaFontaine said about Brizgala. “He has been playing strong.”

The first period ended in a scoreless tie with the Lumberjacks outshooting Tri-City 11-8. The Lumberjacks failed on three power play chances while killing two penalties through the first 20 minutes.

The game remained scoreless until Muskegon’s Jachym Kondelik found the net at the 10:51 mark to give the Lumberjacks a 1-0 advantage. Matej Pekar and Marc Del Gaizo each had an assist.

Monte Graham pounds Tri-City’s No. 19 Brian Hawkinson in a third period fight. Photo/Jason Goorman

The Storm tied the game 1-1 at the 5:44 mark of the third period on a power play goal by Michael Maloney.

Muskegon managed to break the tie during the second of back-to-back power plays on a goal from Anthony Del Gaizo with 3:59 remaining in regulation.

Del Gaizo’s power play strike was assisted by Clayton Phillips. Tri-City pulled its goalie for an extra attacker, and connected to tie the game 2-2 with 28 seconds left on a goal from Hugo Blixt.

The overtime period was scoreless, which led to the decisive shootout.

The Storm struck twice in the three-round shootout with goals from Filip Forsmark and Adam Goodsir.

Muskegon was denied on both of its chances.