The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ season ended in hearbreaking fashion on Saturday night in Chicago.
After scoring the tying goal with only 29 seconds left in regulation, the Lumberbacks quickly gave up a goal in sudden death overtime and lost 3-2 to the Chicago Steel in Game 4 of the USHL Eastern Conference finals.
Chcago won the best-of-five series, three games to one. The Steel now advance to the Clark Cup finals, where they will play the Sioux Falls Stampede for the league championship.
The Steel have now knocked the Lumberjacks out of the playoffs for two straight seasons.
Saturday’s game was hotly-contested throughout, with neither team scoring in the first two periods.
The Steel finally drew first blood with a goal by Nick Abruzzese at 5:43 of the third period. The Lumberjacks countered with a goal from Egor Afanasyev less than two minutes later.
Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored at 11:09 of the third, putting Chicago up 2-1. Then the Lumberjacks, desperate to survive, got the tying goal from Ryan Savage with only 29 seconds left in regulation.
But Muskegon’s hope of winning and forcing a Game 5 was quickly doused just 1:12 into overtime, when Fontaine scored his second goal for Chicago and ended the game.
The Lumberjacks lost despite outshooting Chicago 32-16.
Muskegon, under first-year coach Mike Hamilton, finished the regular season with a 41-17-3 record and won he Eastern Conference championship.