Graber scores his first goal as a Lumberjack in the second OT, giving Muskegon a thrilling 2-1 playoff victory

LocalSportsJournal.com

Will Graber was acquired in a trade early in the season to help the Muskegon Lumberjacks win a championship.

lsj-fb-logoHe struggled offensively since putting on a Jacks jersey, going without a goal in 38 games.

But Graber more than made up for the drought Saturday night, scoring the game-winning goal with just over five minutes left in the second overtime to give the Lumberjacks a crucial 2-1 victory over host Youngstown in Game 3 of the USHL Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.

Graber’s goal came on a redirection a shot from Joseph Cecconi, who was credited with the lone assist.

The Lumberjacks now lead the series against Youngstown 2-1. They can clinch the series and move on to the conference finals with a victory over the Phantoms at home on Monday at 7:15 p.m.

“It was another huge win for us,” said Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier, whose team won the first game of the series in overtime. “We will have to mentally give all we have to close the series out.”

The game was the longest in the Lumberjacks’ five-year history in the USHL, lasting more than 94 minutes.

It wouldn’t have been so long, and may not have ended so well, if it weren’t for the outstanding play of Lumberjacks goalie Eric Schierhorn.

He stopped 44 of 45 shots, including 17 in the pressure-filled overtime, to allow the Jacks to escape with the victory.

“He was fantastic,” Krygier said. “He made some big saves for us in overtime. We had to make sure we played great defense in front of him.”

The tense game was scoreless for the first two periods.

Youngstown’s Vas Kolias finally broke the deadlock 32 seconds into the third period.

Muskegon’s Matheson Iacopelli tied the game 1-1 with a goal at 12:04 of the third period. It was his fourth goal of the playoff series.

Mark Petaccio and Christian Wolanin picked up the assists on the tally.

The first 20 minute overtime ended in a scoreless tie thanks to Schierhorn, who stopped 13 shots in the first overtime. Muskegon only managed five shots in the period.

The second OT looked like it would end the same way until Graber’s heroics settled the issue.

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