MUSKEGON, MICHIGAN — Despite rallying to tie the game in the third period, the Chicago Steel (11-6-1-2, 25 pts.) fell to the Muskegon Lumberjacks (8-11-1-1, 16 pts.) 4-2 Friday in the opener of a two-game weekend series at L.C. Walker Arena.
Lumberjacks captain Anthony Del Gaizo scored twice. Cole Kodsi scored his first USHL goal for the Steel and Oskar Autio made 33 saves for Chicago.
Del Gaizo opened the scoring with a one-timer from his brother, Marc, at 6:36 of the first period. The shot from the bottom of the right circle made its way past the glove side of Autio. The lead was extended to 2-0 with 29 seconds remaining in the frame, as Del Gaizo fired a low shot from the slot for his team-leading 12th tally of the season.
Kodsi got the Steel on the board five minutes into the second period with a backhanded shot from the slot. The Michigan State University commit has registered a point in each of the last two games. Aaro Vidgren recorded the lone assist.
The Steel tied the game, 2-2, at 9:23 of the third period. Austin Magera brought the puck into the Muskegon zone down the left wing and fed a cross-ice pass down low to Samuel Bucek, who snapped his seventh goal of the season.
But the tie was short-lived. Just 55 seconds later, the Lumberjacks regained the lead. After a Muskegon shot bounced off the side of the Steel cage, Benito Posa tallied his first goal of the season by flipping a shot over Autio from the right side of the crease.
Later in the third, Muskegon netminder Keegan Karki made a tremendous glove save on a shorthanded opportunity for Robbie Stucker, maintaining the one-goal lead. Emilio Pettersen then sealed the 4-2 victory for the Lumberjacks with 31 seconds remaining, scoring an empty-net goal from center ice.
Muskegon outshot Chicago by a 37-24 margin. The Steel denied both of the Lumberjacks’ power play opportunities, and went 0-for-5 on their own chances.
The two teams play rematch Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT as Chicago looks to snap a five-game road losing streak. Following the USHL holiday break, Chicago visits the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Dec. 27 at 7:05 p.m. Steel games are carried live on Mixlr (free audio) and HockeyTV (iPPV). For more information, visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com/broadcast.
The Steel return home Saturday, Dec. 30 to host the Dubuque Fighting Saints at 7:05 p.m., featuring a Youth Replica Jersey Giveaway presented by McCue Chevy for the first 500 kids 14 and under. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 855-51-STEEL, stop by the Box Office at Fox Valley Ice Arena or visit ChicagoSteelHockeyTeam.com.