By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
Kevin Lindskoug established himself as the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ No. 1 goaltender from the day he arrived in town.
Through his first nine games, he’s been solid with a 6-2-1 record and a 1.97 goals-against-average.
But on Saturday night, Lindskoug was even better in leading the Lumberjacks to a 3-2 victory over the Dubuque Fighting Saints, a team that came into the game with a 10-0-1 record.
That means Lindskoug and the Jacks’ handed the Fighting Saints their first loss in regulation this season.
“He’s been really good for us, but tonight was probably the best he’s been,” Lumberjacks’ coach Jim McKenzie said. “He made some big saves for us, obviously, he had a great third period. It was just a really good effort.”
Lindskoug faced 46 shots, including 18 in the third period. And in spite of all those shots, he had a shutout intact until two late penalties led to two late power-play goals and a slim 3-2 victory.
“You’re thinking shutout and thinking you might go whole way, but we took two bad penalties,” Lindskoug said. “We let them in the game so that’s not good at all.”
But what was good is the Lumberjacks were able to hang on against the Fighting Saints.
Tyler Heinonen scored two goals for Muskegon, his fifth and sixth of the season. Adam Gilmour scored what proved to be the game-winning goal.
It was a solid opening period for Muskegon, which came out hitting more than it did on Friday in a loss to the Fighting Saints. On one power play, the Jacks had two close calls and a shot by Michael Brodzinski that rang off the post.
Heinonen got the Jacks on the board when he tipped in a shot from Frederik Tiffels at 18:39 of the opening period. That goal came on the power play.
There were no goals and no penalties in the second period which meant the Jacks took that narrow 1-0 lead into the final 20 minutes.
An off-man rush by Tiffels and Gilmour gave Muskegon a 2-0 lead. Tiffels, stationed on the left side, found Gilmour on the right side and he snapped the puck into the net for his third goal of the season.
Seven minutes later, the lead grew to 3-0 when Riley Alferd’s shot from the right side was saved, but Heinonen slapped it home. Ben Foster also assisted.
As the clock began to run down, it appeared the only thing left to be decided was it Lindskoug would earn his second shutout of the season.
It did not happen as Shane Sooth scored a power-play goal at 16:12 and Mike Szmatula at 17:39.
The visitors pulled goaltender Connor Girard was pulled with 66 seconds to go, but his team could not produce a tying goal.
“I was tired after the game, but the defenders did a great job with the rebounds,” Lindskoug said “They helped me a lot.”
The outcome and performance was also pleasing to McKenzie.
“We were a lot better right from the start,” McKenzie said. “We were more physical and played a lot smarter with the puck.”