Muskegon Lumberjacks win regular-season finale, secure opening-round bye in Clark Cup playoffs

It took the last possible second of the season to determine how the Muskegon Lumberjacks were going to open postseason play next week.

Muskegon needed a win against the Chicago Steel and a Green Bay Gamblers loss in any fashion to the Madison Capitols on Saturday to lock up the second seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Lumberjacks easily handled their business with a 4-1 win over Chicago at Fox Valley Arena, but they had to wait for Green Bay to lose, which happened in a shootout. Muskegon finishes the regular season with a 38-22-2 record, good for 78 points and a second-place tie with the Gamblers.

The Jacks earned the tie breaker by having more regulation plus overtime wins than Green Bay as Muskegon had 35 to the Gamblers’ 31.

Muskegon will wait to see who it will play in the second round, starting next weekend at Trinity Health Arena.

The USHL playoffs will start Monday with Green Bay taking on the Steel, while Madison will face off with the Youngstown Phantoms. Both series will be best-of-3 at the top seeded venue.

On Saturday night, the Lumberjacks scored the lone first-period power-play goal at the 12:30 mark from David Klee. It was the 15th goal of the season for Klee, and it was assisted by Ty Henricks and Justin Solovey.

Solovey increased Muskegon’s lead to 2-0 with his 25th goal of the season just 21 seconds into the second period. Sacha Boisvert and Cooper Pierson notched assists.

The Steel scored their lone goal of the game just 20 seconds later from Anthony Cardilli.

The Lumberjacks responded with Matvei Gridin’s 38th goal of the season late in the second period. Klee was credited with an assist. Muskegon had a 3-1 advantage heading into the final period of regulation.

Teddy Spitznagel closed out the scoring at 18:40 with his third goal of the season from Henricks.

The Jacks outshot Chicago 24-15. Shikhabutdin Gadzhiev only had to stop 14 shots to earn the victory in net for Muskegon.

Muskegon killed all five of the man advantages for the Steel while going 1-for-2 on its power play.

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