Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ roster underwent some serious changes that includes four players going out and four players coming in.

Traded from Muskegon to other teams were forwards Tyler Heinonen and Ben Foster along with defenseman Chris Leibinger. Forward Campbell Elynuik also is no longer on the Jacks’ active roster.

Heinonen is heading to Chicago, Foster to Tri-City and Leibinger to Waterloo. Chase Phelps, a Lumberjacks affiliate player, also was sent to the Chicago Steel.

In return, the Jacks are receiving Brian Morgan from Indiana, Jeff Kubiak and Christian Heil from Chicago and Josh McArdle from Tri-City.

“We are excited to have these four players join the team as they each bring in unique qualities that will help this team the rest of season,” said Lumberjacks coach Jim McKenzie. “We believe that we have important pieces in place now to make a deep run towards a USHL championship.”

According to the USHL website, all these deals were completed on Wednesday.

Morgan, who is committed to the University of Maine, played in 39 games for the Ice and scored 16 goals and added seven assists for 23 points. He had 18 penalty minutes and was minus-6.

“Brian (Morgan) is another solid forward that uses his size well and his very strong in front of the net,” said McKenzie. “Morgan is a gritty guy that will do the little things for the team and possesses a hard shot.”

Heil, a Colorado College commitment, played in 30 games for the Steel. He had 16 goals and four assists for 20 ponits. He had 59 penalty minutes and was minus-8.

“Christian (Heil) provides great speed and skill along the front line that will mix in well with the guys already in place here,” said McKenzie. “Heil is a natural center that will help provide more leadership to the team.”

Kubiak, also acquired from Chicago, had four goals and six assists for 10 points in 35 games. He has 42 penalty minutes and was minus-12. He is committed to Cornell.

“Jeff (Kubiak) is a big body that will help provide a strong and physical presence up front,” said McKenzie. “Kubiak is another center that will help us in crucial situations, especially in the faceoff circle with his size.”

McArdle, a defenseman, comes to Muskegon after playing 19 games for the Storm. He had three assists and 12 penalty minutes. He was minus-14. He is committed to Yale University.

“Josh (McArdle) is a solid stay-at-home defenseman that always makes the smart play when relied upon,” said McKenzie. “McArdle is a smart kid that will help contribute to the size and depth that is in place here.”

In the deal, Muskegon also dealt two of its top scorers in Heinonen and Foster.

Heinonen had 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points in 41 Lumberjack games. He was second in scoring on the team behind Adam Gilmour.

Foster played in 43 games and had 14 goals and eight assists for 22 points.

Leibinger, a defenseman, had four goals and six assists for 10 points. He had 16 penalty minutes and was plus-10.

Elynuik was the leader in penalty minutes for Muskegon with 105. In 37 games, he had seven goals and four assists for 11 points. He was minus-3. 

Along with the aforementioned trades, the Jacks will receive Tri-City’s seventh-round draft pick in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft to complete the McArdle-Foster trade.

The Morgan trade also included the Lumberjacks sending their second-round draft pick to the Ice. Muskegon also will receive the Ice’s sixth-round pick in the same draft.

In the Leibinger trade with Waterloo, Muskegon received a seventh-round draft pick in the 2013 USHL Entry Draft.

In other news, the Lumberjacks have added two affiliate players in forward Connor Hurley (Eagan, Minnesota) and defenseman Doyle Somerby (Marblehead, Massachusetts) to their active roster. Both players will join the team following the conclusion of their respective high school hockey seasons.
Connor Hurley is the brother of Lumberjacks forward Cullen Hurley and is currently playing at Edina High School.
Connor Hurley is draft-eligible for this summer’s 51st NHL Entry Draft in June and is projected to be a first- to second-round pick.
Somerby currently attends Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire and was a fifth-round pick of the New York Islanders in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.