Blackhawks prospect Josiah Slavin, Chicago Steel advance to USHL’s Clark Cup Final

The Steel defeat the Muskegon Lumberjacks in four games in the Eastern Conference Final.

GENEVA — Blackhawks forward prospect Josiah Slavin and the Chicago Steel defeated Mikael Hakkarainen and the Muskegon Lumberjacks 3-2 in overtime in Game 4 of the USHL’s Eastern Conference Final on Saturday at Fox Valley Ice Arena to advance to the Clark Cup Final.

Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored two goals, including the game winner just 1:13 into overtime, to send the Steel to the Clark Cup Final for the second time in three years.

The Steel will face the Sioux Falls Stampede, who swept the Anderson Cup champion Tri-City Storm in the Western Conference Final.

Nick Abruzzese, the USHL’s leading scorer and a Harvard commit, ended the deadlock at 5:25 of the third period with a power-play goal from the right faceoff circle to give the Steel a 1-0 lead.

The Steel’s lead only lasted 1:50 before Egor Afanasyev, a projected second-round pick in this year’s NHL draft, made it 1-1 with a power-play goal of his own.

Fontaine added what appeared to be the game-winner off a feed from Miami (Ohio) commit Uula Ruikka at 11:09.

Ryan Savage, a Miami commit, lived up to his last name by scoring during a scramble in front of the net with 29.3 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Slavin, who was parked in front of the net, sent a pass back to Fontaine in the slot that he gathered and fired by Bibbins for the game winner.

Slavin scored two goals in Game 1 against Muskegon and added assists in each of the next three games. The 2018 seventh-rounder has six points (two goals, four assists) in eight playoff games. The Colorado College commit racked up 20 points (14 goals, six assists) in 27 regular-season outings with the Steel after he was acquired from the Lincoln Stars in January.

The loss for Muskegon ends Hakkarainen’s season. The Finnish forward, who was drafted in the fifth round last year by the Blackhawks, tallied three goals with two assists against the Steel. Hakkarainen, who turned 21 in January, rejoined the Lumberjacks after just one game with Providence College citing Muskegon as a better place for his development.