The Muskegon Lumberjacks will be opening the 2021 Clark Cup playoffs from the Mercy Health Arena next week.
Muskegon however ran into trouble in its first game against Chicago this weekend, allowing three unanswered goals and losing to the Anderson Cup Champion Steel 6-4 from Fox Valley Ice Arena in Illinois.
The Lumberjacks are now 34-15-4 on the season, good for 72 points and second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
Muskegon will close out the regular season tomorrow night against the Steel before starting the best-of-3 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Green Bay Gamblers.
All games against Gamblers is slated to be play in Muskegon.
The Steel opened the scoring at the 7:27 mark of the first period on a tally from Josh Doan.
Muskegon tied the game 1-1 with a Quinn Hutson goal 12:40 into the first period.
The Lumberjacks took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after Danil Gushchin scored his 30th of the season at the 19:12 mark.
Muskegon increased its lead to 3-1 at the 4:44 mark of the second period on Gushchin’s second goal of the contest.
The Steel responded with Doan’s second goal of the game 14:34 into the second period to cut their deficit to 3-2 heading into the final stanza.
Chicago tied the game 3-3 at the 1:21 mark of the third period on a goal from Luca Fantilli.
Gushchin quickly responded two minutes into the third period, completing the hat trick and giving the Lumberjacks a 4-3 advantage.
The Steel exploded for three unanswered goals to take a 6-4 lead late in the game.
Doan completed the three-goal hat trick at the 8:38 mark, Fantilli added his second of the night 11:22 in the stanza and Doan scored his fourth of the contest 12:08 into the third.
The Lumberjacks outshot Chicago by a 35-22 margin while goaltender Nate Reid allowed all six goals scored.