By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Lumberjacks had a spring in their step right from the get-go on Friday night and the result was a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Steel.

The game was played before 3,178 spectators at L.C. Walker Arena.

Muskegon produced two goals in the first period and had the Steel on their heels with an 18-4 advantage in shots on goal.

Jeff Kubiak scored at 4;57 of the opening period and Mike Preston scored his first goal of the season less than 10 minutes later.

Muskegon added two insurance goals just 10 seconds apart early in the final period. Joe Cox scored at 1:17 and Doyle Somerby scored at 1:27 for a 4-0 Lumberjacks’ lead. For Somerby, it was his first goal of the season.

Former Lumberjack Tyler Heinonen ruined the bid for a ninth shutout by Muskegon goaltender Kevin Lindskoug with a goal at 11:01 of the third period.

“It was a great effort and the guys were ready to play,” Muskegon coach Jim McKenzie said. “They came out with a lot of jump and a lot of energy and right from the start capitalized on a couple opportunities.”

That strong start could have been even better except that Cullen Hurley’s shot from close range rang off the goalpost near the midpoint of the opening period.

The second period was a big more evenly played, but Muskegon’s defense, and the goaltender of Lindskoug kept the visitors off the board.

In the final period, those two quick strikes were an indication that Muskegon was poised to raise its record to 29-19-10 for 68 points in the Eastern Conference standings.

There were some penalties to kill and some save to make, but the Jacks were able to pull out the victory.

“Whatever it’s been, their goaltending has played great against us all year long,” said McKenzie, whose team outshot Chicago 46-30.

Alex Sakellaropoulos was pulled after allowing the fourth goal early in the final period. Chris Nell played the final 18:33 and did not allow a goal.

“It was great to see the guys stay with it, stay with it,” McKenzie said.  “Battle through the second, we had some penalties and killed those off. Then we got a couple big goals in the third.”

Muskegon will host Team USA (U-18) at 7:15 p.m. Saturday night.