By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ mission in the early going of the USHL regular season is simple.

Be at your best in the third period.

Muskegon Lumberjack Ben Foster

On Saturday night, before a turnout of 1,657, the Lumberjacks were at their best in the final 20 minutes of  a 4-1 victory over the Indiana Ice. The Jacks scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to capture their third victory in as many outings.

“As a team, we really want to play well in the third period,” Lumberjack forward Ben Foster said. “The third period has been our best period. It’s been fun and we hope it keeps being fun.”

Last season, the third period was a nightmare for the Jacks.

That trend has been reversed, especially this weekend in victories over Chicago and Indiana.

“What I liked this weekend was the third period was our best in both games,” Lumberjacks’ coach Jim McKenzie said. “(Friday) night we were tied and (Saturday) it was tight. The guys really battled and got a win.”

Foster has a souvenir for his trophy case after bagging his first USHL goal in the opening period.

“It was a great pass by Freddie (Frederick) Tiffels,” Foster said. “I got a lot on it and thank God it went in.”

Foster came into the game with two assists in the first two games. He had some chances in both games, but his first goal didn’t come until Saturday night.

“Hopefully there are a lot more to come,” Foster said. Chad McDonald also assisted on Foster’s goal.

The second period was scoreless so Muskegon took a narrow 1-0 lead into the final 20 minutes.

Adam Gilmour hooked up Tyler Heinonen with his third goal of the young season just 25 seconds into the period. Joe Cox also assisted on the goal that gave Muskegon a 2-0 lead.

Two minutes lates, misfortune struck for the Jacks. A high shot from the left point by Indy’s Rinat Valiev struck Jacks’ defenseman Chris Leibinger up high. The puck ricocheted into the net and spoiled the shutout bid of Jacks’ newest member, goaltender Kevin Lindskoug.

“He hasn’t been here long, but he’s an older guy, a more experienced guy,” McKenzie said of Lindskoug, a 20-year-old native of Sweden. “He’s been here a week and he’s already talking to the defensemen. He’s a take charge kind of guy.”

And he has two victories and a 1.00 goals-against-average in his first to appearances in the Jacks’ net.

Muskegon effectively put the game away with two late goals.

Max Shuart scored his first of the season from Mason Jobst and Riley Alferd at 17:10. A minute later, Foster found McDonald streaking down the ice. McDonald went to his forehand and snapped a quick shot behind Ice goaltender Mattias Soderquist.

Indiana outshot Muskegon 28-24.

“Every game there is something we need to be better at,” McKenzie said.

The Lumberjacks return to action next weekend with a two-game weekend trip to Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.