By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – Matej Paulovic’s homecoming wasn’t supposed to go like this.

Paulovic, the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ third leading point producer this season, missed the past five games, four at an international tournament and one on a league suspension.

He returned to action Saturday with the intention of leading the Jacks to their second victory this weekend.

But Paulovic drew a five-minute major penalty for kneeing a Madison player with six minutes left in the game and the Lumberjacks trailing by one goal.

The Jacks successfully killed off the long penalty, but by the time it was over, there was only a minute left in the game. That allowed Madison to escape with a 2-1 victory in front of 1,801 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.

“I thought it was a missed check,” said Muskegon Coach Todd Krygier, whose team has now lost three of its last four and fell to 19-10-3 on the season. “Matej is not that type of player. It was just a tough situation.”

The Lumberjacks came out sluggish for the second straight night, trailing 2-0 after the second period.

Madison’s Will Johnson opened the scoring at 5:24 of the first period, picking up a puck that was lost by the Lumberjacks in their own zone and beating Muskegon goalie Eric Schierhorn.

Ryan Lohin gave the Capitols a 2-0 edge with a goal at 11:52 of the first period.

For a while it looked like the Jacks would repeat their performance from Friday night, when they tied the score with two third period goals and ended up winning in an overtime shootout.

Lumberjack captain Christian Wolanin put Muskegon on the board at 8:28 of the third period to narrow the deficit to one. Will Graber had an assist on the tally.

The Lumberjacks had two power play opportunities in the third period, following Madison penalties at 6:10 and 13:06. They failed to score on the first, and the second power play was cut short after a minute when Paulovic received his five minute major and a game misconduct.

The Lumberjacks failed to score on three power plays in the game. They held Madison scoreless on four power plays.

“This is the first time I’ve really been upset with the team,” Krygier said. “The first two periods were absolutely unacceptable. There were some issues that we will address tomorrow morning. I thought we got outworked for two periods.”

Muskegon outshot Madison 30-29. Capitols goalie Darren Smith stopped 29 shots to claim the victory between the pipes.