By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Maybe it was the long holiday break, or maybe the Muskegon Lumberjacks just don’t have the best of luck when the Youngstown Phantoms come to town.
Whatever the case, the Lumberjacks emerged Saturday on the short end of a disappointing 2-1 overtime shootout loss to Youngstown in front of 2,232 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
Muskegon dropped to 18-8-1 on the season and remain in second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference. The Jacks gained a point in the standings with the overtime loss and now have 38.
Youngstown improved to 14-7-5. The third-place Phantoms are right behind the Jacks in the Eastern Conference race with 33 points.
The game was disappointing for the Jacks in several different ways.
They were hoping for a better performance against the Phantoms, following a painful 8-0 loss to Youngstown at home on Thanksgiving weekend.
They also failed to get a win in front of one of the biggest home crowds of the season so far.
Finally, they wasted a terrific performance by standout goalie Eric Schierhorn, who just returned after spending several weeks in Canada playing in an international tournament.
Schierhorn was stellar, stopping 33 shots in regulation, two in overtime and three in the overtime shootout.
Unfortunately he did allow two goals in the overtime shootout – to Youngstown’s Ryan Lomberg and Taylor Best – which cost the Jacks the game.
Muskegon had only one goal in the shootout, from Jack Rowe.
Despite all of that, Muskegon Coach Todd Krygier said he was not upset with the loss.
“We are fine – we had chances – we are not disappointed,” Krygier said. “Youngstown has some good top players. We want to win every game but I am not disappointed. I’m more concerned about going to Madison (for a game Monday night). They are playing very well.”
The Jacks came out sluggish, being outshot 7-1 in the first half of the first period. Several big saves from Schierhorn kept the game scoreless for most of the period.
Muskegon’s Matheson Iacopelli was whistled for a penalty at 17;54 of the first, and Youngstown’s Kiefer Sherwood took advantage 12 seconds later with a power play goal.
The second period was scoreless, with both Schierhorn and Youngstown goalie Colin DeAugustine taking turns making great saves.
Muskegon opened the third period with 1:55 remaining in a Youngstown penalty, but failed to convert. The Jacks got another power play chance at the 5:01 mark but again failed to find the goal.
The Lumberjacks were 0-for-4 on power plays in the game.
Iacopelli tied the game midway through the third period with a wrist shot from between the blue line and the right circle. Robbie DeMontis assisted on the tally.
Regulation ended with the game tied 1-1.
The Lumberjacks outshot Youngstown 41-34 in regulation and 5-2 in the five-minute overtime. Iacopell had one very close call in overtime, skating around a Youngstown defenseman and hitting the post with a shot.
The shootout involved players from each team taking turns going one-on-one with the opposing goalie.
Best, the fifth Youngstown shooter, broke a 1-1 tie with his goal. Muskegon could have kept it going, but DeAugustine stopped a shot by Iacopelli to end the contest.