Now we know for a fact that the Muskegon Lumberjacks are on a roll.
On Sunday the Jacks made it a perfect weekend and five in a row with a thrilling 3-2 overtime shootout victory over Team USA’s elite Under-18 squad, which only plays a partial USHL schedule but may be the most talented team in the league.
The Under-18’s came into Sundays game with a 17-5 record against USHL opponents, but the Lumberjacks were not intimidated.
They took an early lead twice during regulation, gave up the tying goal late in the third period, then won in the shootout with goals from Mark Petaccio and Christian Wolanin.
Backup goaltender Michael Latorella got the start and was outstanding, stopping 46 of 48 shots.
The Lumberjacks are now 34-18-4 on the season, good for 72 points and third-place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference. They moved into sole possession of third place when Dubuque lost on Sunday.
Muskegon also pulled within two points of second-place Cedar Rapids.
The Lumberjacks, who have four regular season games remaining, clinched a postseason playoff berth with their win on Friday.
Muskegon’s Tom Marchin opened the scoring with a power play goal at 6:27 of the first period. Wolanin and Petaccio assisted on the goal.
Team USA tied the game 33 second later with a goal from Auston Matthews.
Petaccio gave the Jacks a 2-1 lead with a power play goal at 3:09 of the second period. Matheson Iacopelli picked up the lone assist.
Team USA’s Brendan Warren tied the game at 2-2 at 17:35 of the third period.
Regulation ended with Team USA outshooting the Lumberjacks 43-22.
The five-minute overtime period was scoreless, leading to the decisive shootout.
Nobody scored in the first three rounds of the shootout, then Petaccio and Team USA’s Jeremy Bracco scored in the fourth round.
Wolanin gave the Jacks a 2-1 lead in the shootout in the fifth round, then Latorella stopped Team USA’s next attempt to seal the victory.