By Dave Hart
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks have been anchored in recent weeks with strong play from players like Christian Wolanin, Eric Schierhorn and Matej Paulovic.
But all three of those players were missing Friday, due to tournament commitments, and the Jacks were looking for other players to carry the load.
Steven Merl, Ryker Killins, Liam McGing, and Bo Hanson answered the call, scoring four of the Lumberjacks’ five goals in a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Steel in front of 1,352 fas at L.C. Walker Arena.
Hanson was the biggest hero, scoring the game-winning goal with 6:30 left in regulation, after the Lumberjacks had squandered a two-goal lead.
“It was good to see everyone contributing tonight,” said Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier, whose team willnow enjoy an eight day holiday break. “I needed everyone to contribute tonight.”
The Lumberjacks improved to 18-7-1 on season, good for 37 points and second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference. They are now just three points behind first place Cedar Rapids, which lost Friday.
“We lost two games to Cedar Rapids (early in the season) but they still need to come back to our building,” Krygier said. “We have to win those two games against them to make sure that we are working to get into first place.”
Chicago’s Tyler Sifferlen opened the scoring at the 11:21 mark of the first period to give the Steel a 1-0 lead.
Killins tied the game on a power play at the 17:35 mark, taking a pass from Griffen Molino and burying the puck in the net with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Molino and Trevor Hamilton were credited with assists.
McGing gave the Jacks a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the season at the 18:51 mark, scoring on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle. His first goal of the season came with an assist from Merl.
The Steel’s Frederik Olofsson tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal at the 8:38 mark of the second period.
Merl scored from the right side on the goal one minute later to give the Jacks the lead back at 3-2. Garrett Hallford and Will Graber picked up assists on the tally..
Tom Marchin scored his team leading 14th goal of the season at the 14:24 mark of the second to give the Jacks a 4-2 lead. Molino picked up the lone assist on the goal.
John Ernsting and John Schilling scored at the 56 second mark and the 4:44 mark of the third period, respectively, to tie the game 4-4.
Hanson gave the Jacks the lead for good at the 13:30 mark of the third period. Molino picked up his third assist of the night and had the lone assist on the game=winning goal.
Muskegon goalie Michael Latorella stopped 23 of 27 shots in the victory as the Jacks outshot the Steel 38-27.
The Jacks will return to action a week from Saturday at home against Youngstown.