By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – All streaks must come to an end.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks came into Saturday’s contest against the Fargo Force with a four-game winning streak to start the season.
The Force came in with a three-game losing streak, and the visitors hadn’t scored a goal since their season opener Sept. 20.
But the tables turned Saturday.
Fargo’s Butrus Ghafari ended his team’s long scoring drought midway through the second period, and it proved to be the difference as the Force skated away with a 2-0 victory in front of 1,560 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
Fargo improved to 2-2 on the season while the Lumberjacks dropped to 4-1.
Muskegon remains in second place in the United States Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, behind Ann Arbor-based Team USA.
The lone bright spot for Muskegon was goalie Eric Schierhorn, who shut out Fargo Friday night and only gave up a single goal Saturday. Fargo’s other tally came with less than a minute remaining in the game on an open-netter by John Biaocco.
“I thought there were times we outplayed them, times they outplayed us, but I don’t think we took advantage of opportunities like we have been and should,” said Muskegon Coach Todd Krygier. “We didn’t give up a lot of shots, but we didn’t take the shots that we had.
“We had a three-on-one and a two-on-one and we just didn’t get it. We’ve got to shoot the puck.”
Muskegon had chances in the first period, outshooting the Force 12-10, but the game was scoreless after one.
Muskegon had a few defensive breakdowns in the second period, giving the visitors several quality chances from short range.
Ghafari cashed in with 9:37 left of the second period, giving the Force a 1-0 lead.
Fargo Coach John Marks said it was a relief for his team to finally score a goal, let alone get a victory on the road.
“We competed for 60 minutes tonight and found a way,” Marks said. “It’s nice to get a win on the road.”
He said inexperience has hurt his team so far this season.
“We have 12 new forwards – kids coming out of midgets and high school – and they knew going in that it was possibly going to be a rough start,” Marks said. “It’s going to take time. The season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
Muskegon put heavy pressure on Fargo goalie Cam Johnson midway through the third period, but came away empty-handed each time.
The Lumberjacks outshot Fargo 34-28 for the game.
“I thought the guys worked hard – we just didn’t work smart tonight,” Krygier said. “All we can do is go over the tape and figure out what we can do better.”