The Muskegon Lumberjacks have been on a roll since the start of the new year, winning seven of their last 10 games heading into Saturday’s showdown with first-place Chicago.
The victory improves the Lumberjacks record to 16-7-2 on the season, good for 34 points and a first-place tie with Chicago in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
Muskegon will look to sweep the three-game series with the Steel on Sunday for lone possession of the top spot in the league. Faceoff is slated for 4:05 p.m.
The Lumberjacks led 1-0 after the first period, scoring at the 6:05 mark on a goal from Quinn Hutson.
Muskegon increased its advantage to 3-0 with second period goals from Tanner Kelly at the 3:02 mark and Nick Portz 9:46 into the stanza.
The Steel responded with a goal by Erik Middendorf (11:06) and Sean Farrell (14:30) to cut Muskegon’s lead to a 3-2 advantage.
The Lumberjacks regained a two-goal lead at 4-2 with a tally by Cristophe Tellier at the 15:48 mark of the second period.
Muskegon had a 4-2 advantage heading into the third period.
The Lumberjacks increased their lead to 5-2 on a Cameron Berg goal 7:09 into the third stanza.
Tellier and Kelly each notched their second goal of the contest for Muskegon at the 9:04 and 19:19 marks of the third period to close out the scoring.
Muskegon goaltender Nate Reid stopped 27-of-29 shots for the Lumberjacks as both teams each had 29 shots on goal.
Berg and Hutson paced the Lumberjacks with a goal and two assists each, while Dylan Wednt added three assists and Danil Gushchin contributed with two assists.