By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
The Muskegon Lumberjacks posted a 3-0 victory over the Indiana Ice on Saturday night at L.C. Walker Arena.
But that doesn’t mean Coach Jim McKenzie was very satisfied with what transpired on the ice. McKenzie hustled into his office after the game, slipped on skates, grabbed his gloves and his hockey stick and entered the Lumberjacks’ dressing room.
A week ago, that same scenario prompted a late-night skate with the team skating suicides up and down the ice.
This time, McKenzie did not follow through with the skate, but he did put some fear into his players.
“I thought a few of them were going to cry,” McKenzie said. “I wish they would have.”
Yes, the Jacks, led by goaltender Jordan Uhelski’s second shutout of the season and two goals by newcomer Brian Morgan, were able to get the victory and two valuable points, but McKenzie had a minor boil going, especially after watching his team in the first period.
“We didn’t win the battles we could win and we took long shifts,” McKenzie said. “There were just a lot of things we didn’t need to be doing in the first period that just made it harder and harder on ourselves.”
Indiana, which did not play on Friday night, had a jump on the Jacks in the opening period, but a goal by Chad McDonald gave the Jacks a 1-0 lead.
Muskegon scored two goals in the second period, both by Morgan, who was acquired from the Ice earlier in the week. The Jacks’ play did get better in the final two periods,
“We got our legs in the second period, but you can’t hit if you’re not skating because you’ll never get there,” McKenzie said. “The puck will be gone. Once we started getting our legs in the second, we started putting the body on them a little bit and that made a big difference.
“I just to see us play smarter when we don’t have legs,” McKenzie said.
In the second period, Morgan scored off a centering pass that ricocheted to Morgan, who tucked a shot into the open side of the net.
Later, he struck again, with a tip-in at the post. That goal was set up by another newcomer, Christian Heil.
“It was definitely different,” Morgan said of facing his former teammates. “It was a little hard going out and seeing all of them, but got traded here so there is no friendship out there. You go out there and play for your team and then afterwards you go over there and say ‘good game.’
Uhelski made 37 saves and posted his second shutout of the season.
“He played great and he made some big saves,” McKenzie said. “There were some dangerous opportunities. but at the same time, we did a good job, even when we weren’t playing well, to keep them to the outside. We let him see that first shot, he did a great job of controlling rebounds and catching anything they threw in the air.”
The Lumberjacks have now defeated the Ice all seven games this season. Indiana has lost six of its last seven games.