By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

As the Muskegon Lumberjacks approach the midpoint of the United States Hockey League season, there is little doubt who is the team’s most valuable player.

Goaltender Kevin Lindskoug, who has been consistent throughout the season, has been at his best in recent weeks with a 6-0-1 record. He has three shutouts, including his last two outings, a 4-0 victory over Team USA and a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Steel.

“My confidence has never been better,” Lindskoug said. “It feels good.”

And the Lumberjacks are going good with an 18-8-2 record and a solid second-place standing in the Eastern Conference.

Not bad for a team that scores less than three goals per game. The reason for this season’s success can be found at the opposite end of the ice, where you will find Lindskoug and his backup, Jordan Uhelski. Uhelski posted his first USHL shutout during the Jacks’ recent 7-1-1 surge.

But it’s Lindskoug, who has a streak of 140:20 without allowing a goa, who has been leading the way most nights. The last time he gave up a goal was Dec. 14 in a 4-3 road victory against the Indiana Ice.

“He’s playing well and I like the way we are playing in front of him,” Lumberjack coach Jim McKenzie said. “We’ve done some really good things. We’ve been better at attacking the other team and playing with more cycling and more contact in their zone.”

Of course, it’s not just the goaltender who can be credited with success in the defensive end. Team defense also has a lot to do with that.

“I think we are better defensively, and when we’re not, he’s there for us,” McKenzie said. “We’ve had some games where he doesn’t get a lot of action and then thing start to pick up.

“He’s been solid to say the very least,” McKenzie said.

“This has been good,” Lindskoug said. “It will improve my stats a little bit.”

Heading into the weekend, Lindskoug is tied for first in victories (14), second in minutes played, third in saves, first in shutouts with five and first in save percentage at .930.