The Muskegon Lumberjacks put together an impressive win on the road Friday.
The Lumberjacks showed some resolve in rallying for three straight goals after host Chicago scored two early goals in the second period to take the lead.
Muskegon fought off the Steel down the stretch to earn a 5-3 win, its third straight after an 0-4 start.
The Lumberjacks will go for four wins in a row back home at L.C. Walker Arena Saturday against the Green Bay Gamblers at 7:05 p.m.
“The good part is the guys responded to win that second period, and that was absolutely huge,” Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton said. “It was good to see. I keep saying we keep learning day by day, and it was good to see we are learning the lesson to not let games get away from us.
“The guys put their bodies on the line. We had 10 blocks in the last 10 minutes and it was fun to see them sacrificing to get the win. That’s three in a row, and the guys have a huge opportunity to get a weekend sweep (Saturday).”
Muskegon now has six points on the young season and is four points behind Chicago, Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.
The Lumberjacks played solid from the start and took a 1-0 lead at 16:20 of the first period when Ryan Sorkin pounced on a loose puck off a shot from Ryan Poorman to score his first of the season.
Chicago got going after the first intermission, scoring twice in the first five minutes of the second period to take a 2-1 lead.
The Lumberjacks proved undaunted, however, and responded with a pair of goals of their own. AJ Hodges took a nifty pass from Luke Mobley and beat Steel goalie Victor Ostman at 13:11 of the second to tie the game at 2-all, and a little over a minute later Alex Gaffney skated through the crease and deposited a backhander above the glove of Ostman and into the net for the Lumberjack lead. Tanner Edwards and Zack Malik drew the assists on the play.
Edwards scored what proved to be the game-winner at 2:38 of the third period with assists from Gaffney and Alex Konovalov. Chicago drew to within 4-3 with a little more than 13 minutes to play in the game thanks to Tyler Carpenter, but Muskegon allowed them to draw no closer.
The Lumberjacks fought threw a late penalty and later being shorthanded because the Steel pulled Ostman in favor of an extra attacker. Oliver MacDonald made them pay with an empty-net goal with 1:17 remaining to ice the big win over the team which ousted them from the playoffs last season. Iivari Rasanen got the assist.
Muskegon goalie Jonathon (Jack) Williams played well throughout the contest and finished 31-of-34 to get the win.
“Jack really played well and made some key saves for us,” Hamilton said. “I thought he was outstanding.”
Uula Ruikka and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored the two second-period goals for the Steel, who fall to 5-2. The first goal came while the two teams were skating 4-on-4, and the second came on the power play.
The Lumberjacks played very strong when the game was 5-on-5.
“We didn’t have the smartest start to the second period,” Hamilton said. “You don’t want to open up the ice to a team with that much skill. Fortunately we recovered to get the win.”
The Steel finished 1-for-5 on the power play, although Carpenter’s goal came two seconds after a man advantage expired. Muskegon, which was outshot 34-24 for the game, drew just one power play chance and did not capitalize on it.
Saturday night’s contest vs. Green Bay is celebrate the city of Muskegon night, as the Lumberjacks help the city celebrate its 150th birthday.
Special jerseys will be worn by the Lumberjacks, and the jerseys will be auctioned off after the game.
For the full USHL standings, click here.