Lumberjacks’ backs to the wall after a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to Chicago Steel in Game 1 of conference finals

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.

Matt Coronato scored the game winner for Chicago at the 7:09 mark of the first overtime period.

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.

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