The Muskegon Lumberjacks figured they would have a dog fight with Youngstown in the first round of the playoffs, and that seems to be the case.
Muskegon’s Matheson Iacopelli continued his hot streak in the series, scoring two goals in the losing effort.
The Clark Cup quarterfinal series, now tied at a game apiece, will continue Saturday in Youngstown at 7 p.m. Game 4 will be Monday in Muskegon.
The Lumberjacks fought hard Friday, but had a hard time getting the puck past Phantoms goalie Colin DeAugustine, who stopped 28 of 30 Muskegon shots, including 11 in the crucial third period.
“We had a good opportunity to tie the game,” said Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier. “It just didn’t happen.
“At the end of the day Youngstown is a first place team and if anyone thought we were going to easily sweep them, they are out to lunch.”
The Jacks were hurt by penalties, rolling up 64 minutes worth, compared to 23 for Youngstown.
“We had to kill eight power plays while they only had to kill four,” Krygier said. “That was a big difference but our guys gave a good effort.”
Iacopelli opened the scoring at 3:42 of the first period to give the Jacks a 1-0 lead. Bo Hanson assisted on the goal.
Youngstown’s Josh Nenadal tied the game at 1-1 with a goal at 10:59 of the first period.
The Phantoms jumped on the Lumberjacks early in the second period with goals from Kyle Connor and Jash Nenadal, at the 56-second mark and 3:35, respectively.
Iacopelli responded with an unassisted goal at 4:29 of the second period to narrow the Jacks’ deficit to 3-2.
The Lumberjacks put on the pressure in the third period, outshooting the Phantoms 11-4, but DeAugustine turned them away.
Connor added an empty net power play goal at 19:13 of the third period.