Muskegon Lumberjacks excited about weekend-dominated 2012-13 schedule

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks are hoping fans will clear their weekend schedules this coming season. That’s because the Jacks will play 30 of their 32 home games on Friday or Saturday.

There also will be more chances to see the team in 2012-13, as all 16 USHL Member Clubs will play 64 regular season games, four more than in previous years.

“We are very excited about all facets of the schedule,” said Lumberjacks President Tim Taylor. “We are confident our fans will embrace the large number of Friday and Saturday night games, and I know our players and coaching staff will appreciate our concerted effort to optimize the road portion of the schedule.”

The Lumberjacks will begin the season at home Saturday, Sept. 29 against the Ann Arbor-based U.S. National Team at 7:15 p.m., the first of 18 Saturday games scheduled at L.C. Walker Arena. There will be 12 Friday home dates, plus one each on Sunday and Wednesday.

The Jacks will play four or more consecutive home games four times, including a season-long seven-game stretch from Friday, Mar. 15 to Saturday, Apr. 6. Muskegon’s busiest month for home games is November, with six contests scheduled, but each full month of the season features at least four home matchups.

As far as opponents go, the Lumberjacks will play at least four games against each of seven Eastern Conference rivals; those matchups will account for 54 of Muskegon’s 64 games. The Jacks’ most frequent opponent will be Chicago (10 meetings), with league champion Green Bay (nine) close behind. Muskegon will play eight games each against Youngstown, Indiana and the U.S. National Team, plus seven against Dubuque and four versus Cedar Rapids.

Just like their first two years in the USHL, the Lumberjacks will play each team at least once. Five Western Conference foes – Des Moines, Waterloo, Sioux City, Sioux Falls and Fargo – will pay a visit to Muskegon, while the Jacks will travel to Lincoln, Omaha and Tri-City for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

The Lumberjacks will also play two preseason games, both at Indiana Sept. 14 and 15, before heading to Sioux City, Iowa, for the annual USHL Fall Classic showcase. They will skate in three exhibition games Sept. 20-22 before returning to West Michigan to start the regular season.

At the conclusion of the 512-game regular season, the USHL will implement an eight-team postseason format with the top four teams in each conference qualifying for the Clark Cup Playoffs. All series in the 2013 playoffs will be best-of-five.

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