By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Some coaches advise their players to leave the past behind.
But Muskegon Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier is not in that category.
Krygier couldn’t have been happier after the Lumberjacks swept a pair of games last weekend over the rival Green Bay Gamblers, 2-0 and 4-2, at L.C. Walker Arena.
He said he wanted to take some revenge against the Gamblers, who were particularly cruel to the Lumberjacks last season.
Green Bay beat Muskegon three games in one week during a low point last November, then beat them again in the last game of the season to steal the final playoff spot.
“I do think like that,” said Krygier, when asked if he shared some of his players’ desire to get even with Green Bay. “It was pretty embarrassing last year – probably the most embarrassing week I’ve had coaching in the USHL.
“It was a real down point during the season. It’s probably what cost us a playoff spot . That really hurt.”
The Lumberjacks’ success this season is not limited to last weekend’s sweep of Green Bay.
The team is living up to advance billing with a 7-3-0 record after 10 games. They currently have a three-game win streak and are tied with Cedar Rapids for first place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with 14 points.
Muskegon is also undefeated at home with a 4-0 mark.
The Lumberjacks will return to action Wednesday with a special morning game at 10:30 a.m. against Team USA at L.C. Walker Arena.
The Jacks will visit Youngstown Saturday night, then play a pair of games at Tri-City on Nov. 7-8.
They will return home Nov. 15 against Bloomington.
Morning game dedicated to kids’ health
Lumberjacks radio broadcaster Bryan Fongers offered Local Sports Journal a little history about Wednesday’s day game, an annual event that usually attracts busloads of youngsters from area schools.
“The ‘Hockey for Health School Day Game’ has been an annual game every season since the Lumerjacks joined the USHL in 2010,” Fongers said. “The date of the game varies. This year it’s sponsored by Mercy Health and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan.
“The main theme of the game is to encourage kids to live active and healthy lifestyles, with hockey being one major example.”
Lumberjack fans are encouraged to come out and cheer with the kids – if they can get out of work at that hour.
One of the major stars of last weekend’s sweep of Green Bay was goalie Eric Schierhorn.
In Friday’s game he stopped 32 shots – including a penalty shot – to claim his first shutout of the season.
On Saturday he was sharp again, stopping 30 shots, including 13 in the vital third period when the Lumberjacks played a man short for six minutes due to penalties.
For his efforts, Schierhorn was named the UHSL’s “Reebok Goaltender of the Week,”earning the honor for the first time this season and third time overall in two years with the team.
“All-around, it was a good weekend for the guys as we all bought in to what the coaches were preaching throughout the week leading up to our two games against Green Bay,” Schierhorn said.
“The defense did a good job of eliminating the high-quality scoring chances (for the Gamblers), while the rest of the guys were blocking shots all over the ice that, in return, helped lead to my own personal success.”
New goalie in town
The Lumberjacks have obtained goalie Jacob Gwillim from the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League in exchange for future considerations.
Gwillim, a Swartz Creek, Michigan native, appeared in four games for the Tomahawks this season, posting a 2-1-0 record with a 2.90 goals-against average.
Gwillim spent two seasons (2012-14) with the Lansing Capitals midget minor and major teams, compiling a 20-9-0 record with a 1.81 goals-against average.
The addition leaves the Lumberjacks with three goalies – Schierhorn (the regular starter), Michael Latorella and Gwillim.
Krygier said the two backups will remain on the roster for some time and compete for playing time.
“It’s going to be for the next couple of months, and we’ll see who emerges as the second goalie,” Krygier said. “I think competition is good.”