By Dave Hart
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks’ offensive slump is apparently over.
Between Christmas and Jan. 17, the Jacks played six games where they scored two goals or less. They suffered during that period, going winless in six of eight.
But the attack is definitely back.
That was evident Saturday when the Lumberjacks peppered the Fargo Force with 54 shots on goal, easily their best output of the season, and grabbed a 2-1 victory in front of 2,540 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
The score shouldn’t have been so close, but the Force managed to stay in the game with a lot of good saves by goalie Mathias Isrealsson.
The victory was the third straight for the Lumberjacks and fourth in five games. They improved their record to 23-11-3 and remained in second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Lumberjacks will return to action next Friday at home against Dubuque.
“I think our focus has been on getting more quality chances and putting the puck in the net,” said Muskegon Coach Todd Krygier. “Before we were too focused on making plays and were not getting enough shots.
“I thought we got a little sloppy defensively in the last eight minutes, but generally I thought we dominated the entire game”
That much was clear from the shot totals. Muskegon outshot Fargo 22-12 in the first period and 22-6 in the second.
But none of the shots found the net until 10:48 of the second period, when Trevor Hamilton scored a power play goal with a booming slap shot from the point. Joseph Cecconi and Griffen Molino were credited with assists.
Hamilton admitted it was difficult to get anything past Isrealsson.
“He played a great game,” said Hamilton, who now has six goals and 11 assists this season. “We kept getting shots on him that we couldn’t bury, but somehow we managed to get a couple through.”
Muskegon went up 2-0 when Mark Petaccio, acquired last week from Des Moines, scored his first goal as a Lumberjack on a breakaway at 19:20 of the second period. Christian Wolanin had the only assist on the tally.
Things got a little scary in the middle of the third period, when the Lumberjacks got back-to-back penalties – their only two of the game – to give Fargo a one-skater advantage for about four minutes.
But the penalty killers did a good job, keeping the Force from cashing in.
Fargo got its only goal with just under five minutes remaining from Mikey Eyssimont.
Muskegon goalie Eric Schierhorn stopped 33 of 34 shots to collect his 16th win of the season.