By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – Matheson Iacopelli is hot again, and the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ losing streak is finally over.
Iacopelli led the USHL in scoring last year with 41 goals. He had a far more modest 18 goals coming into Saturday’s game against the first place Cedar Rapids Roughriders.
But the talented Lumberjack forward cranked it up when it really mattered, scoring two goals to help the Lumberjacks down the Roughriders 4-1 in front of a season-high crowd of 4,086 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
The victory broke a painful four game losing streak for the Lumberjacks, and improved their record to 27-17-3. It was Muskegon’s first win against Cedar Rapids in four tries this season.
The win also put the fourth place Lumberjacks 10 points ahead of Bloomington and Madison in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jacks have 13 games remaining in the regular season.
Finally, the game provided some revenge for the Jacks, who outshot Cedar Rapids by a comfortable margin Friday but lost due to the hot goaltending of the Roughriders’ Ryan Larkin.
On Saturday it was Muskegon goalie Eric Schierhorn’s turn to shine. He stopped 33 of 34 shots and carried a shutout well into the third period.
“It feels great,” said Iacopelli, who has three goals in his last four games. “Yesterday was a tough loss. As long as everybody contributes and the team wins we can go the long run.”
Muskegon Coach Todd Krygier was thrilled to see Iacopelli turn of the offensive jets.
“He has a good work ethic and he played well in both games, which is good to see,” Krygier said.
“We played two really good hockey games this weekend and should have won both. We put a stop to a four game losing streak against a good team.”
Iacopelli opened the scoring on 5-on-3 power play with a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle at 7:30 of the first period. Trevor Hamilton picked up the lone assist on the goal.
Muskegon’s Robbie DeMontis scored a late first period goal, grabbing a rebound off the back boards and shooting it past Roughriders goaltender Larkin from the top of the right faceoff circle.
The goal, at 19:26 of the first period, was assisted by Joseph Cecconi.
Muskegon came out flying to start the second period, outshooting the Roughriders 6-1 in the first six minutes of.
Iacopelli collected his second goal by redirecting the puck in the net from a Griffen Molino shot at 4:38 of the second period. The goal was Iacopelli’s 20th of the season.
Cedar Rapids had a great opportunity cut its three goal deficit with a 5-on-3 power play early in the second perid. But the Jacks killed both penalties to maintain their advantage.
Newcomer Ryan Siroky scored his first goal as a member of the Jacks on a breakaway goal at 19:11 of the second period to give Muskegon a 4-0 lead. Max Humitz picked up an assist on the goal.
Cedar Rapids’ Jiri Fronk broke the shutout with a goal at 11:10 of the third period.
Each team had 34 shots in the contest.