By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
A tough weekend of home games came to conclusion on Saturday night with the Muskegon Lumberjacks falling 4-3 in overtime to Sioux Falls.
That means the Jacks did come away with two points in the standings this weekend against the best the USHL has to offer. On Friday night, Muskegon lost in an overtime shootout and on Saturday, a goal with just 28 seconds left in the overtime by CJ Franklin sealed the fate of the Lumberjacks.
Saturday’s game attracted 2,954 spectators to L.C. Walker Arena.
And what they saw was a high energy game a couple mistakes that cost the Lumberjacks dearly.
On Saturday night, Sioux Falls made good on its chances by scoring four goals on faceoffs.
“We have to take care of our end better,” Lumberjacks’ coach Jim McKenzie said. “And take care of the puck a lot better on all four goals.”
Muskegon fell behind 1-0 after one, but battled back to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Sioux Falls tied it up on a goal by Franklin when won it in overtime with just 28 left before a shootout would have been used to decide a winner.
“All four of their goals, counting the overtime goal, were faceoff goals,” McKenzie said. “It’s stuff we work on. We work on winning draws.”
Todd Skirving gave the visitors a 1-0 lead with the lone goal of the opening period.
Muskegon battled back in the second and tied the game on a power-play goal by defenseman Michael Brodzinski, whose wrist shot from near the blue line found its way into the net.
Vinny Muto restored the Stampede’s lead with a goal slightly more than a minute after Brodzinski’s tally.
Then came a key juncture for the Lumberjacks, who were able to not only tie the game, but take the lead. That all happened in the matter of 58 seconds.
Adam Gilmour scored an unassisted goal at 16:37 to tie the game and seconds later, Cameron Darcy, with a strong individual effort in the offensive end, notched a goal that put Muskegon in the lead at 3-2.
Franklin scored his first of two goals near the midpoint of the third period then won it in the latter stages of overtime.
“It was the way they won it, they sent their defenseman and therefore beat our guy off the boards,” McKenzie said. “More than anything, that’s what it was. Once they had that mismatch, our other ‘d’ (defenseman) had to come over to help and then the guys is wide open backdoor.”
Muskegon goaltender Kevin Lindskoug stopped 35-of-39 shots in the Muskegon net.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” McKenzie said in summing up the weekend against two tough teams. “You get to overtime and shootout and you give yourself a chance to win.”