By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – They say the true test of a team is how it reacts to adversity.

And things haven’t been going great for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in
recent games.

After starting the season 4-0, the Lumberjacks have dropped two of
their last three games.

The only bright spot during that stretch was an overtime shootout loss
to Green Bay on Saturday, which earned Muskegon a point in the

The Lumberjacks have nine points for third place in the United States
Hockey League’s Eastern Conference standings. They trail first-place
Team USA by three points and Green Bay by one.

Muskegon returns home to the L.C. Walker Arena for a pair of games
Friday and Saturday against Sioux Falls. On Sunday they travel to Ann
Arbor to meet Team USA.

Coach Todd Krygier isn’t sweating the recent winless streak. He said
he’s more concerned about improving to the point where wins will come
when they matter the most, at playoff time.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Krygier said. “The guys are working
hard and we’re playing well. We’re not going to win every game.

“We’re getting better, especially at possessing and moving the puck. I
just want to see our team working on the things we’ve implemented and
improving on them. The playoffs are five months from now. I want to
keep building toward the end of the season.”

Goals have been tough to come by during Muskegon’s cold streak. They
were blanked by Fargo in their last home game, then scored only once
in Dubuque.

They scored three goals in Green Bay, and battled back from a two-goal
deficit. But none of the five players chosen for the overtime shootout
put the puck in the net.

Nobody has emerged as the hot hand offensively. The leading goal
scorers are Connor Hurley and C.J. Smith with 3 apiece. Copper Marody,
Trevor Morbeck, Frederik Tiffels, Scott Pooley and Matt Iocapelli all
have two goals.

But Krygier said the offense has been held back by injuries, and he’s
still working on finding effective line combinations.

“Guys aren’t contributing on a consistent basis the way I would like
them to,” Krygier said. “We haven’t been like Sioux Falls, which has
three or four of the leading scorers in the league.

“But Mason Jobst is coming off shoulder surgery. He’s going to
contribute. Cullen Hurley had a pulled groin and then he got sick.
He’s not 100 percent yet. Luke Sandler and Trevor Morbeck will be
stepping up.

“We’ve just had different circumstances with different guys to start
the year. It will come.”

Krygier admits he hasn’t found the forward line combinations  he’s
comfortable with, and he plans to keep experimenting until they click.

“You’re looking for chemistry between certain players,” he said. “I
like to get lines set and keep them together for certain periods of
time. When you find guys that work well together, you keep them

The line combinations for this weekend’s games will be Sandler, Connor
Hurley and Smith; Cullen Hurley, Marody and Tiffels; Morbeck, Jobst
and Iocapelli; and Robbie DeMontis, Matt Mendelson and Pooley.