New players come through as Lumberjacks end losing streak with a 5-4 shootout victory over Madison [VIDEO]

Editor’s note: Publication of Friday’s Lumberjack game story was delayed by technical difficulties. Our apologies.

By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks had every excuse to lose their third straight game Friday night.

Two of their leading scorers – Matej Paulovic and Griffen Molino – were out of action with league suspensions, and standout goalie Eric Schierhorn had the night off.

Lumberjack David Keefer (left) passes to Will Graber. Photo/Jason Goorman

Lumberjack David Keefer (left) passes to Will Graber. Photo/Jason Goorman

Adrian Sloboda, Juraj Mily and Max Humitz, who all came to the Lumberjacks in the past two weeks, each had a goal and an assist in regulation as Muskegon overcame a two-goal deficit and forced an overtime period against Madison.

Mily added to the heroics in the overtime shootout, scoring a goal that kept the game alive when Madison had a chance to steal the win.

Then Sloboda stole the spotlight, scoring the deciding goal in the 13th round of the shootout to give the Jacks a thrilling 5-4 comeback victory in front of 1,294 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.

“I feel really good,” said Sloboda, a native of Slovakia who said he had never participated in an overtime shootout before. “We played well tonight and I am really happy.”

The victory improved the Lumberjacks’s record to 19-9-3 and ended their two-game losing streak and four-game winless streak.

It also put the Lumberjacks back in sole possession of second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Dubuque, which lost Friday night.

The first two periods did not go well for Muskegon.

They fell behind 1-0 just 23 seconds into the game when Madison’s Haralds Egle, a former Lumberjack, beat Muskegon goalie Michael Latorella from close range.

The Lumberjacks tied the score five minutes into the game on a goal by Sloboda, but Madison pulled ahead before the first intermission with a goal from Charlie Gerard.

Humitz tied the score for the Muskegon with a goal just 31 seconds into the second period, taking a beautiful centering pass from Matheson Iacopelli from the left of the net and popping it past Madison goalie Garrett Metcalf.

But Madison added two goals later in the second period, from Guillaume LeClerc and Will Johnson, to take a 4-2 lead.

“I told them during the second intermission that they better come out and work,” Muskegon Lumberjack coach Todd Krygier said. “It was pretty simple. They knew if they weren’t going to come out and work there they would be working (in practice) and be miserable.

“The reality is they had to get to work and play smarter.”

The Lumberjacks took Krygier’s words to heart, getting goals from Mily and Tom Marchin within the first three minutes of the third period to tie the score.

Danger lurked near the middle of the period when the Lumberjacks received back-to-back penalties and faced a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation for a minute and a half. But Latorella and the penalty killers were up to the challenge, keeping Madison from scoring and taking control.

“At the end of the day I thought we showed a lot of character coming back real quick in the third period,” Krygier said.

The five minute overtime was scoreless, despite several near misses by the Lumberjacks, who peppered Metcalf with shot after shot, but couldn’t find the goal.

Then came the exciting overtime shootout, which featured shooters from each team going one-on-one with the opposing goalie.

The first three shooters from each team scored, then the next four missed.

Mason Anderson scored for Madison, giving the Capitols a 4-3 edge in the shootout, but Mily kept the game alive with a goal of his own.

The next two shooters for each team missed, then Madison’s Alec Vance and Muskegon’s Will Graber scored. The next shooter from each team missed, then Latorella stopped Madison’s Tommy Muck, to set up Sloboda’s opportunity to clinch the win.

Sloboda stopped about 10 feet in front of the goal and blasted a slap shot that ended the game.

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