By Justin Haggerty
Muskegon hosted the Tri-City Storm of Kearney, Nebraska Friday night in front of 1,998 fans at L.C. Walker Arena, but could not cash in on their opportunities, coming out the losing end of a 2-1 decision and dropping to 2-7 at home.
Muskegon will host Tri-City again Saturday at 7:15 p.m. for Detroit Red Wing night.
“We played a similar game to what we’ve been playing on the road,” said Muskegon head coach Todd Krygier, whose team is now 8-8 overall and 6-1 on the road. “It was 2-1, we got 33 shots, we got point blank opportunities to score and we didn’t bury our chances.
“To me, we’ve got to bear down and we’ve got to be able to score more than one to two goals per game.”
The Lumberjacks have been held to two goals or fewer in 10 of their 16 games this season.
Both goaltenders stymied their opponents all night, each facing a total of 33 shots.
Neither Muskegon nor Tri-City had great scoring opportunities for much of the first period, with both team’s defenses denying second chances and clearing the puck quickly.
Tri-City’s Colin Rutherford finally broke the deadlock in the final minute of the first period, hammered home a rebound right at the crease, past Muskegon goalie Joey Daccord. Wade Allison and Dan Labosky were credited with assists.
The second period started with the Lumberjacks doing what they have consistently done all season – looking for the extra pass instead of taking open shots.
Krygier is clearly tired of that problem plaguing his team.
“We work on stuff all week, we all talk about shooting the puck more, and then make stupid passes every game,” Krygier said. “They’re thinking that they are playmakers and converting nothing.
“They’ve got no points, no experience in the league, no production and they’re going to make another play? It’s an absolute joke.”
Muskegon finally tied the game at 7:08 of the second period, twenty seconds after Storm forward Joseph Cipollone was charged with a high-sticking penalty.
Lumberjacks captain Trevor Hamilton saucered the puck in from the blue line to Collin Adams on the right wing. Storm goalie Jake Kielly stopped his shot, but Rem Pitlick, Muskegon’s leading scorer, was waiting to lift the rebound into the open net.
The teams were deadlocked at a goal apiece after two periods.
Muskegon came out with great intensity early in the third period, but Kielly stopped every Lumberjack scoring chance.
Just before the four minute mark of the period, Adams went in all alone on a breakaway but Kielly stoned him with his right pad.
That was as close as the Lumberjacks would get.
Tri-City defenseman Tory Dello scored his first goal of his season at the 12:07 mark with a soft wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circles that found the net.
The Jacks got one more chance, with six minutes remaining, when they broke out on a 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity, but a crossing pass was missed and they couldn’t get a shot.
The Muskegon penalty kill was a bright spot, killing all three Storm power plays.