By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
Muskegon Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier is far from satisfied with his hockey team.
Yet he’s certainly not disappointed.
His young squad, comprised mostly of first-year players, is 3-0 after the first two weekends of United States Hockey League action.
The Lumberjacks, while still prone to the occasional error, have demonstrated an ability to keep their poise in close games and come away with exciting victories.
It happened opening night in Green Bay, when they pulled out an overtime shootout victory. It happened last Friday in Ann Arbor, when they squeaked out a 5-4 win.
And the team stayed perfect in the home opener last Saturday, beating Indiana 3-2 in overtime, thanks to Scott Pooley’s goal with just over a minute left in the extra period.
The Lumberjacks return to action this weekend, with home games at L.C. Walker Arena against the Fargo Force Friday and Saturday. Puck drop is 7:15 p.m.
“I think we come to play,” Krygier said. “We get off to really good starts, then we have letdowns in the second and third periods, so we’ve basically been hanging on. We still have a lot of areas that we need to improve on.
“But teams have come back and we continue to battle. The guys are working hard and playing well, but we’re still giving up too many shots, too many scoring chances, and our special teams have not been good on either end, offensively or defensively.”
Krygier said he’s not surprised by his team’s determination to hang tough in close games.
“I expected that,” he said. “When we played in the preseason we would get down four goals and come back every game. We never gave up.
“In the preseason we were 1-4, but we were spending all of our time evaluating players. Now we have the team together and we’re getting more consistent play and results. I don’t think there’s anybody in the league who thought we’d be 3-0, but that doesn’t mean anything. We still have 57 games to play.”
Goaltending has been an early highlight for the Lumberjacks. Jordan Uhelski got the job done in the first two games, stopping 38 shots in Green Bay, and stopping a penalty shot with four seconds remaining to preserve the win against Team USA.
Eric Schierhorn got his first start between the pipes Saturday, making 42 saves while Uhelski served a one-game league suspension for his part in an altercation at the end of Friday’s game.
“I think both goaltenders have played very well,” Krygier said. “Jordan played excellent in those two games. Then Schierhorn stepped in and basically stole the game from Indy. Eric played fantastic. They are both really good goaltenders and they’re going to compete for playing time against each other.”
There is no regular starting goalie, according to Krygier. Schierhorn will start Friday, while no decision has been made about Saturday’s game, he said.
PROMOTIONS ON TAP FOR THIS WEEKEND
Friday’s game will feature a magnetic schedule giveaway, presented by Aspire Lending, to the first 3,000 fans to enter the arena. The game will also mark the return of the “Jacks Win You Win” promotion presented by Sport Clips. If the Lumberjacks win on Friday, fans will receive a $5 Sport Clips gift card.
Saturday’s game will feature a team poster giveaway along with the return of the “Subway Saturday” promotion. If the Lumberjacks win, fans can redeem their ticket stubs at any participating Subway location for a buy one, get one free deal for six inch subs. The free sub must be of equal or lesser value.