By Justin Haggerty
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks entered action Friday night on a three game win streak, while the Youngstown Phantoms came in winners of just two of their last six.
But the logical outcome did not materialize.
Muskegon’s standout goalie Eric Schierhorn suffered an injury prior to the game and was scratched, giving backup Jacob Gwillim his first ever USHL start.
It turned out to be a night to forget for Gwillim and the Lumberjacks as the Phantoms left L.C.Walker Arena with an 8-0 victory witnessed by 1,606.
Of primary concern to the Lumberjacks and their fans was Schierhon, whose work in net this season has produced two shutouts and kept the Jacks in many close games.
“I’m told by the doctors that it’s a concussion,” Lumberjacks head coach Todd Krygier explained. “Obviously he couldn’t play today. He can’t play tomorrow in Youngstown. We just hope Eric gets better. Obviously his health comes first.”
Youngstown outshot the Jacks 10-2 in the first period, but only scored one goal, a power play tally from Max Letunov off a rebound of a Bryan Lemos shot at 14:51.
The game had its share of confrontations.
Muskegon’s Liam McGing was blasted in the corner in the first period and was unable to get up, forcing him out of the game. He returned in the second period. Jacks captain Christian Wolanin was visibly upset, pleading with the referee for a penalty, with no such luck.
“His (McGing’s) back was stiff (after the hit),” explained Krygier. “He was kind of shocked so we were careful with him, then he felt like he could come back.”
At 17:00 of the first, Lumberjack Tommy Marchin received a five minute major for making head contact on a Phantom player. Youngstown defenseman Tommy Parren took offense to the play, exiting the bench and confronting Marchin. He also received a five minute major and a game misconduct.
The second period wasn’t so friendly for the home team as Youngstown scored four times. Collecting goals for the Phantoms were former Lumberjack Ryan Lomberg at 5:40, Kyle Connor on a one-timer at 13:11, a power play tally from Taylor Best at 17:30 and a late shot through the five hole for Lemos at 19:32.
At 19:58, Muskegon defenseman Dante Palecco received a head contact penalty of his own, giving Youngstown a power play that extended into the third period.
That power play did not reach its full length, because Letunov cashed in with his second goal of the night 49 seconds into the third period.
At 6:06 Lumberjack Keegan Ward was slapped with a hooking penalty, leading to Phantom center Trey Bradley;s first goal of the season on the power play at 5:11.
Youngstown forward James Winkler wrapped up the scoring with his first goal of the season at 13:02 on a wraparound that Gwillim wasn’t able to get to.
“It was an unfortunate night tonight, luckily we get to play them tomorrow,” Krygier said. “We’re not going to dwell on it, we need to forget about it and move on.
“We’ve been an excellent hockey team and worked our butts off to get in this position (second place). I’m not down or discouraged, it just is what it is, we’ve got to rebound and find a way to come back tomorrow.”
Youngstown went 4-7 on the power play while Muskegon was held to 0-3.