By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ first home game in about a month didn’t turn out as planned.

Coach Jim McKenzie was satisfied with his team’s effort, but that didn’t change the fact the Jacks dropped a 2-1 decision to the Team USA U-18 at L.C. Walker Arena on Saturday night.

The game was witnessed by 2,571 spectators.

“We knew it would be a tough game,” Lumberjacks’ coach Jim McKenzie said. “Every game against the U-18s is very tough, they are a very good team.”

Mistakes in the opening period cost the Jacks a pair of goals. John Hayden scored on a wrister that hit Jack goaltender Kevin Lindskoug’s glove and fell into the net. Eight minutes later, Jack Eichel picked the puck off a Lumberjack defenseman’s stick and scored to make it 2-0.

And the fact the Jacks could muster just one goal against Team USA goaltender Thatcher Demko led to a narrow defeat for the Jacks (28-18-10).

The only Jacks’ goal came from Jeff Kubiak, who took a pass from Adam Gilmour and managed to slide the puck into the net.

“We made a couple mistakes early and didn’t capitalize on our power play,” McKenzie said. “That was the biggest difference. We kept coming and had chances and rang a few off the bar, but it wasn’t enough tonight and we came up short.

“The boys worked hard,” McKenzie said. “We kept coming, we kept working, but we came up short.”

The return home was a welcome sight for the Jacks, which hadn’t played a home game since Feb. 16.

“You love playing at home,” said McKenzie. “It’s the familiarity, it’s your own fans and you certainly want to put on the best show you can and get a win.”

Muskegon returns to action Saturday night at home against the Youngstown Phantoms. Gametime is 7:15 p.m.