Muskegon Lumberjacks open the season with a thrilling shootout victory in Green Bay

Local Sports Journal

Muskegon Lumberjacks coach Todd Krygier said he wasn’t sure what to expect when his young team took the ice for its opening game Saturday night.

He learned he has a team that can hang tough in a tight contest on the road and walk away with a victory.

The Lumberjacks used a pair of overtime shootout goals from Connor Hurley and Frederik Tiffels to gain a season-opening 5-4 win Saturday over the Green Bay Gamblers. It was Muskegon’s first victory in Green Bay since the Jacks joined the USHL  four years ago.

The Lumberjacks, who enter the season with a host of players with no USHL experience, showed no signs of stage fright. They took the lead in the first period and kept regaining the edge after Green Bay tied the score on numerous occasions.

Overtime was only necessary when the Gamblers knotted the game late in the third period.

Perhaps the biggest star of the game for Muskegon was goalie Jordan Uhelski, who stopped 38 shots to claim the victory. The Lumberjacks won despite being outshot 42-23.

Lumberjacks forward Scott Pooley scored his first USHL goal on a short-handed effort in the first period to give Muskegon a 1-0 lead. Trevor Morbeck added a goal about four minutes later to give the Jacks a 2-0 edge.

Green Bay got on the scoreboard midway through the first period with a goal from Matthew Weis. Muskegon answered with a goal from Matt Mendelson to take a 3-1 lead after one period.

Green Bay tied the game in the second period with goals from Ryan Lough and Kevin Irwin.

The Gamblers applied heavy pressure in the third period, outshooting Muskegon 18-4. But Muskegon scored first with a tally from Tiffels, only to be answered by Green Bay’s Nick Schmaltz with 4:29 remaining in regulation.

The 5-minute overtime period was scoreless, leading to the shootout. Hurley and Tiffels hit the mark for Muskegon while Green Bay failed to find the net. In the USHL, the team with the most shootout goals gets a single goal on the scoreboard, so the Lumberjacks claimed a one-goal victory.

Muskegon will resume play next Friday in Ann Arbor against Team USA. The home opener is next Saturday at L.C. Walker Arena against  Indiana.

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