The Chicago Steel are Eastern Conference champions and headed to the Clark Cup Final for the second time in the last three seasons to face the Sioux Falls Stampede following a Gunnarwolfe Fontaine goal just 1:33 into overtime, last night at Fox Valley Ice Arena.
— Puckin Hostile (@PuckinHostile) May 5, 2019
The Steel and Muskegon Lumberjacks fought a tightly contested battle in game four of the Clark Cup Eastern Conference Final. The teams played to a 0–0 deadlock after two periods until the third-period fireworks began.
Chicago opened the scoring on a Nick Abruzzese five-on-three power play goal, off a great feed from captain and power play quarterback Matteo Pietroniro, at the 5:25 mark of the period. The one-timer from the right circle narrowly eluded Muskegon goalie Brandon Bussi, who played a solid game, despite only seeing 16 Steel shots on net.
The Lumberjacks answered with a powerplay goal of their own from 2019 NHL draft prospect Egor Afanasyev assisted by Blackhawks prospect Mikael Hakkarainen. Afanasyev, the league’s 10th-leading scorer in the regular season, had been very quiet in the series before his goal.
The teams traded goals from Fontaine and Ryan Savage in the final 10 minutes, with the Lumberjacks tying the game with just 30 seconds remaining in regulation. As a result, the fans in Geneva, Illinois, were treated to overtime playoff hockey.
Fonataine was not finished with his big night just yet, though. While not giving up any shots on net in the overtime, the Steel pressured Muskegon hard with an intense forecheck from the drop of the puck. One minute and thirteen seconds into the extra time, Fontaine intercepted an errant rebound up the middle of the Muskegon zone and pushed the puck through two defenders. He set up his shot and snapped the puck past Bussi for the game (and series) winner.
— USHL (@USHL) May 5, 2019
While Fontaine, Robert Mastrosimone and Abruzzese grabbed the headlines on the scoresheets, goaltender Justin Robbins played his second straight stellar game in goal for the Steel. He saved 65 of 68 shots (.955 save percentage) on net in games three and four. In games one and two, Robbins stopped 64 of 71 shots (.901 save percentage).