Lumberjacks falter on special teams, end their home stand with a 3-2 loss to Youngstown

By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks play a physical brand of hockey, so it’s no surprise that they rank third in the United States Hockey League in penalty minutes.

The only problem is that they sometimes struggle when it comes to killing penalties.

Christian Wolanin goes for the puck in front of the Youngstown net. Photo/Jason Goorman

Christian Wolanin goes for the puck in front of the Youngstown net. Photo/Jason Goorman

That was the case Friday, as the Lumberjacks gave up goals on Youngstown’s first two power plays en route to a 3-2 loss in front of 2,649 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.

The Lumberjacks dropped to 24-13-3 and remain in second place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference. Youngstown, in fourth place in the conference, improved to 20-13-5.

The loss was a sour ending to an otherwise successful home stand for the Jacks. They were 4-1 in their prior five games, all on home ice.

David Keefer celebrates after scoring Muskegon's second goal. Photo/Jason Goorman

David Keefer celebrates after scoring Muskegon’s second goal. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon now embarks on a challenging five-game road swing, starting next Friday in Waterloo.

Special teams play was the major problem for the Jacks against Youngstown. They surrendered two goals on five short-handed situations, and failed to score on five power play opportunities.

The most painful missed opportunity came late in the game, after the Jacks had pulled to within one goal. Youngstown was called for a two minute minor with 4:15 remaining, but it was cut short just over a minute later when the Jacks got a penalty of their own.

Muskegon's Mark Petaccio gets airborn after a perfect pass into the front of the Youngstown net for the assist. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon’s Mark Petaccio gets airborn after a perfect pass into the front of the Youngstown net for the assist. Photo/Jason Goorman

“At the end of the day their best players beat our best players (on special teams),” said Muskegon Coach Todd Krygier. “Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.”

Youngstown opened the scoring at 9:29 of the first period with a power play goal by James Winkler.

The Lumberjacks had a golden opportunity to tie the score with six minutes left in the first period when they had a two-man advantage for 42 seconds, but failed to convert.

The Jacks were 0-for-3 on the power play in the first 20 minutes.

Muskegon's David Keefer sends the puck into Youngstown zone. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon’s David Keefer sends the puck into Youngstown zone. Photo/Jason Goorman

Youngstown went up 2-0 just under a minute into the second period with another power play goal by Winkler.

The Lumberjacks got on the board a minute later with a goal by Robbie DeMontis, who was assisted by Tom Marchin and Mitch Eliot.

Muskegon encountered a potential problem at 3:38 of the second period when Mitch Eliot was called for a five minute major penalty for contact to the head.

But the Jacks – aided by a two minute Youngstown penalty in the middle of the short-handed situation – kept the Phantoms from scoring.

Jack Rowe moves the puck up the ice with Muskegon captain No. 6 Christian Wolanin. Photo/Jason Goorman

Jack Rowe moves the puck up the ice with Muskegon captain No. 6 Christian Wolanin. Photo/Jason Goorman

It was the first successful penalty kill of the night for the Jacks.

But Youngstown still managed to take a 3-1 lead with less than a minute to go in the second period when Kyle Connor took a pass to the left of the goal and popped a shot past Muskegon goalie Eric Schierhorn.

Max Humitz scored for the Lumberjacks at 9:13 of the third period, taking a nice centering pass in front of the net from Mark Pettacio and snapping it past Youngstown goalie Colin DeAugustine.

The goal narrowed the score to 3-2, but the Lumberjacks could get no closer. They failed to convert on the late power play, and in the final minute when they pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.

 

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