Lumberjacks fall to Dubuque 6-3, narrowing their hold on second place to only one point

By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – The USHL Eastern Conference race got even tighter Friday night.

The second-place Muskegon Lumberjacks hosted the third-place Dubuque Fighting Saints, with only three points separating the teams in the standings.

Jacks’ Tommy Marchin (25) gets a shot off his own rebound.  Photo/Eric Sturr

Jacks’ Tommy Marchin (25) gets a shot off his own rebound. Photo/Eric Sturr

By the end of the game that margin had shrunk to one point, following Dubuque’s 6-3 drubbing of Muskegon in front of 1,925 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.

The Jacks, who came into the game with a three-game winning streak, fell to 23-12-3 on the season with 49 points. Dubuque improved to 22-9-4 with 48 points.

First place Cedar Rapids won on Friday, pulling five points ahead of the Lumberjacks and remaining six in front of Dubuque.

The Lumberjacks and Fighting Saints will meet again Saturday in Muskegon at 7:15 p.m.

The Lumberjacks, who had 54 shots in their win last Saturday over Fargo, were outshot 39-34 on Friday.

Jacks’ Will Graber (28) puts a backhand shot on net.  Photo/Eric Sturr

Jacks’ Will Graber (28) puts a backhand shot on net. Photo/Eric Sturr

Muskegon was also scoreless in three power play opportunities.

Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier was not happy after the game.

“I thought it was absolutely inexcusable,” he said. “It was our biggest game of the year against a division rival we’re ahead of, they have some games on hand and we needed to get those two points.

“I attribute it to guys not being disciplined, not playing their positions well, not doing what we practiced.”

The Lumberjacks outshot Dubuque 13-11 in the first period, but it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.

Seamus Malone opened the scoring 4:11 into the first period, giving the Fighting Saints a 1-0 lead. J.D. Dudek added a goal at 9:47 to put Dubuque up 2-0 at the first intermission.

Eric Schierhorn (29) turns away a shot from Saints’ Brent Boeing (22) with Jacks’ Joseph Cecconi (3) defending.  Photo/Eric Sturr

Eric Schierhorn (29) turns away a shot from Saints’ Brent Boeing (22) with Jacks’ Joseph Cecconi (3) defending. Photo/Eric Sturr

The Jacks finally broke through late in the second period when Matej Paulovic tapped in a rebound, cutting the deficit to 2-1 after two periods. Tom Marchin and Griffen Molino had assists on the goal.

Molino is second in the USHL with 28 assists on the season.

Dubuque’s Shane Cavanaugh scored at 3:21 of the third period, beating Muskegon goalie Eric Schierhorn with a wrist shot from between the circles.

Cavanaugh struck again two minutes later with an unassisted goal, giving Dubuque a 4-1 lead.

The Lumberjacks pulled within 4-2 when Molino scored at 9:43 of the third.

But the Fighting Saints’ Michael Davis answered with a goal less than two minutes later to put his team up 5-2.

Jacks’ Mat Iacopelli (11) can’t get a wrap-around shot by 4 Saints.  Photo/Eric Sturr

Jacks’ Matheson Iacopelli (11) can’t get a wrap-around shot by 4 Saints. Photo/Eric Sturr

Muskegon got a late goal from Molino with just under three minutes left, with an assist from Matheson Iacopelli. But Dubuque answered again with an empty net goal by Brett Boeing at 17:38 to ice the win.

“I think we just scored on more chances than they did,” said Dubuque Coach Matt Shaw. “We scored early and sort of put them on their heels. I think getting up in the first period 2-0 kind of set the night up for us.”

Dubuque goalie Jacob Nehama stopped 31 shots to collect the victory.

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