The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ dream of hoisting the Clark Cup was cut short with an 8-4 loss to Madison at Mercy Health Arena in Game 5 of Thursday’s Eastern Conference Finals.

The final game of the best of five series looked like Muskegon was going to pull in the reins for a berth into the Clark Cup Finals.

The Lumberjacks took a 1-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the first period on a Joey Larson power play goal. Noah Ellis and Jacob Braccini assisted on the play.

Muskegon skated to a 1-0 lead after the first period, but Madison had much bigger plans in store for the Lumberjacks.

The Capitols tallied six-straight goals that spanned from the first minute of the second period to the 7:29 mark of the third period.

Madison was led in that stretch by a pair of goals from Jack Musa. Tyler Haskins, Richard Hart, Reid Pabich, and Luke Mittelstadt each produced goals for a 6-1 lead.

The Capitols’ deed on the Lumberjacks was just too much for Muskegon to dig out of.

Jacob Braccini made the score 6-2 on a goal assisted by Ellis and Jacob Napier. Ben Strinden gave Muskegon some hope it was about to right the ship when he made the score 6-3 with 12 minutes left in the game. Phillip Tresca and Jacob Guevin helped Strinden on the play.

Madison made sure Muskegon knew the game was out of reach less than 30 seconds later with a Pabich goal that put the Lumberjacks down 7-3.

Owen Mehlenbacher scored Muskegon’s final goal of the season with just under five minutes left in the contest. Larson and Braccini assisted on the power play tally.

The Capitols’ Kyle Kukkonen put the finishing touches on Muskegon with an empty net goal and less than three minutes left to play.

The Lumberjacks were outshot in the contest 41-32 as goalie Chase Clark posted 33 saves. Muskegon’s penalty unit was in full force in the contest. Just like it had done throughout the playoffs, Muskegon shutdown all five Madison power plays while scoring three power play goals on its five opportunities.

Muskegon finished its postseason magic with a 6-3 record which most didn’t believe would even be an option early on in the season.

The Lumberjacks started their 2021-22 campaign in the basement of the USHL, falling all the way to last place after playing through October.

Muskegon then transformed its early woes into an incredible run that took them to the top of the Eastern Conference midway through January.

Check out photos from Game 5, shot by Sondra Workman.