The Muskegon Lumberjacks are facing a win-or-go-home situation on Saturday, after falling to the Chicago Steel 3-2 on Friday in overtime in Game 1 of the USHL Eastern Conference finals at Fox Valley Ice Arena in Illinois.
The Jacks now need to win the last two games of the three-game series to win and advance to the Clark Cup finals. Game 2 will be in Muskegon on Saturday night at 7:10 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, will be Monday in Chicago.
“We’ve got to get over it really quick and go on a two-game winning streak to advance our season,” said Lumberjacks Coach Mike Hamilton. “The guys played hard and deserved a better fate, but now we have to dig ourselves out of a hole.”
The Lumberjacks lost despite leading twice in the game.
Muskegon’s Cameron Berg led off the scoring with a goal at the 18:54 mark of the first period.
Chicago tied things up with a power-play goal by Josh Doan at 16:43 of the second period. The Lumberjacks pulled ahead 2-1 with a goal by Brad Marek with less than a minute to go in the second.
Chicago knotted the game up 2-2 with a goal by Adam Fantilli at 3:48 of the third period. Muskegon goalie Jan Skorpik temporarily saved the Jacks when he stopped a Chicago penalty shot with 1:46 remaining in regulation.
“That was a great save,” Hamilton said. “Skorp has played really well.”
Coronato’s goal settled the issue in overtime.
Muskegon had a 31-25 advantage in shots on goals. Skorpik stopped 22 of 25 shots in the loss. Chicago goalie Simon Latkoczy stopped 29 shots.
Dylan Wendt had assists on both of Muskegon’s goals.