By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
Muskegon Lumberjack head coach Jim McKenzie was looking for a little more from his team on Friday night.
With the Dubuque Fighting Saints in town for the first of two games at L.C. Walker Arena, McKenzie was thinking his team would have no trouble bringing their “A” game.
It didn’t happen as the Fighting Saints posted a 5-3 victory to improve their record to 10-0-1.
“I thought our effort was horrible, I don’t think we played smart at all,” Lumberjack coach Jim McKenzie said. “All the things we talked about we weren’t going to do in terms of turnovers and how we were going to play we didn’t do.”
Dubuque came right out of the gates flying and in less than 8 ½ minutes, had a 2-0 lead. Goals by Evan Janssen and Mike Szmatula staked the visitors to a 2-0 lead.
“They just outworked us,” McKenzie said. “They hustled right from the moment they dropped the puck. They saw us as a team trying to take away their unbeaten streak and try to climb back into a first place tie with them.”
The Fighting Saints made it 3-0 in the early stages of the second period. A two-man play between Shane Sooth and Peter Quenneville led to that third goal. It was Quenneville’s fifth goal of the season.
Muskegon was able to answer back on a power-play goal by defenseman Michael Brodzinski at 5:21. Adam Gilmour and Frederik Tiffels assisted.
But any hopes of cutting further into the deficit disappeared when John Stevens scored to make it 4-1.
Another Lumberjack power-play goal, this time by Max Shuart, did make it 4-2 after two periods. Fighting Saints’ defenseman Jeff Taylor attempted to clear the puck from behind the net. The puck hit referee Curtis Marouelli and bounced right to Shuart for the unassisted goal.
Muskegon was able to cut it a 4-3 game midway through the third period on Shuart’s second of the night off a scramble in front of the Dubuque net. Chris Leibinger and Patrick Koudys assisted.
The Jacks appeared to score the game-tying goal with 36 seconds left when Shuart swatted the puck into the net with a raised stick. Marouelli ruled Shuart’s stick was too high.
“I didn’t see it, so I don’t know,” McKenzie said.
In the game’s final seconds, Jared Privitera, the brother of former Muskegon Lumberjack Alexx Privitera, scored into the empty net for the final margin of victory.
“Our power play was better,” McKenzie said. “It was probably the lone highlight, I think, for us.”
Dubuque had a 30-23 advantage in shots on goal. Fighting Saint goaltender Arthur Brey improved his record to 6-0 while Lumberjack goaltender Kevin Lindskoug fell to 6-2-1.
The teams meet again at 7:15 Saturday night at L.C. Walker Arena.