By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

For some strange reason, the Muskegon Lumberjacks deviated from the game plan for one period on Saturday night.

It was the third period when the Fargo Force began taking over the game and skating off with a 5-2 victory at L.C. Walker Arena.

“We played two good periods, but in the third period we played an entirely different style for whatever reason,” Lumberjacks’ coach Jim McKenzie said. “We did not play smart in the third period and they made us pay.”

Fargo, which came into the game having won four of its last five games, was solid all night long. After a scoreless opening period, the Force scored the game’s first two goals.

Muskegon battled back to tie the game in the second period, but allowed a late goal to the visitors and faced a one-goal deficit with one period to play.

“I really thought we played two really good periods,” McKenzie said. “We had a couple of breakdowns.”

The opening period was scoreless, although the Jacks had several odd-man rushes on which the shooter fired the puck over the top of the net.

“On several of those, we never put a shot on net,” McKenzie said, shaking his head.

Nate Arentz and Taylor Fleming gave the Force a 2-0 lead by the 4:10 mark of the second period.

Muskegon finally was rewarded for its hard work at 5:09 when Joe Cox took a shot from the left side that was saved by Fargo goaltender Brendan Jensen. However, the rebound sat right in the crease and Adam Gilmour swatted it into the net.

Slightly more than 10 minutes later, the Jacks were able to tie the game when Cullen Hurley sent the puck to the goalmouth and teammate Mason Jobst was there to poke it home.

Cameron Darcy fights against Fargo’s Gabe Guertler | Photo Ellen DeLuca

The Jacks were able to get close to scoring on two other occasions in the period. The first came on a scramble in front of the net, but the puck never did cross the goal line despite the fact the Jacks were celebrating what they believed to be a go-ahead goal.

Later, Campbell Elynuik did turn on the red light, but that goal was nullified because of a Muskegon player in the crease.

Fargo took the lead late in the second period on a goal by Dave Gust, his first of two on the night.

Alexander Iafallo and Gust scored at 11:13 and 15:29 of the final period to account for the game’s final two goals.

Muskegon goaltender Jordan Uhelski stopped 22-of-27 shots while Jensen stopped 28-of-30.

For both teams, it was their third game in three nights.

Muskegon, which came into the contest having a 5-0-1 record in its last six games, dropped to 16-8-2 for 34 points in the USHL’s Eastern Conference standings.