By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Goals have been scarce for the Muskegon Lumberjacks lately.
That was never as obvious as last weekend in Green Bay, when five Lumberjacks failed to score during the overtime shootout, and Muskegon went on to lose.
Trevor Morbeck was determined to rewrite that script Saturday night.
The Lumberjack forward was the last player scheduled for the overtime shootout against Sioux Falls, after one player from each team had scored in the first four rounds.
He calmly slipped the puck past Stampede goalie Arthur Brey, giving Muskegon a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in front of 2,222 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
The victory ended a frustrating four-game winless streak for the Lumberjacks (5-3-1), who will travel to Ann Arbor for a game Sunday against Team USA.
“I wanted to end it,” said Morbeck, who also had an assist on an earlier goal. “I told coach before the shootout, if you put me in I’ll end it. I was just joking at the time, but I ended up getting a chance and scoring.
“It’s been real frustrating. We started with four wins, then we lost the four before this, so it was nice to finally get one back so we can start building off from this.”
A Lumberjacks victory did not look likely for most of the evening.
They took a 1-0 lead early in the first period when forward Matt Iacopelli scored his fourth goal in four games.
But Sioux Falls came roaring back with goals from C.J. Franklin and Tony Calderone to take a 2-1 lead after one period.
The score stayed that way until late in the third period, when Muskegon’s Scott Pooley broke in with the puck from the left of the net and placed a shot between Brey’s legs, knotting the score at 2-2.
The five-minute overtime period was scoreless, which was fortunate for the Lumberjacks. Muskegon’s Carson Gatt was called for slashing about a minute and a half through the extra session, forcing the home team to spend most of the period killing the penalty.
That led to the overtime shootout, with five players from each team going one-on-one with the opposing goalie.
Each team scored once in the first four rounds, then Muskegon goalie Eric Schierhorn stopped Sioux Falls’ Griffen Molino in the top half of the final round.
That led to Morbeck’s goal, which sealed the victory.
“It was a big win for us,” said Muskegon Coach Todd Kryger. “We were down, we had to come back, and we did a nice job of continuing to battle. You want winning to become a habit. Losing can become a habit real quick if you can’t find a way to grind through it.”
The Lumberjacks overcame a number of problems to steal the victory.
They were forced to play a man short for much of the game due to seven penalties. The penalty killing unit was effective, giving up only one short-handed goal.
They failed to take advantage of Sioux Falls penalties, going 0-for-3 on the power play.
They were outshot 41-33 in regulation and the five-minute overtime, and coughed the puck up several times in their own zone.
Sioux Falls had at least three shots hit the post and bounce away.
Schierhorn stopped 39 shots in regulation and overtime to keep Muskegon in the game. The victory was his third of the season.
Kryger criticized his team for taking five penalties in Friday’s loss. But he wasn’t convinced that his team deserved to be called for so many infractions Saturday.
“I think we got the raw end of that deal tonight, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” he said. “We had guys hit from behind, then they call us in overtime on a little stick slash. There was nothing we could do about it and we fought through it. Fortunately our penalty killers did a good job.”