By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Lumberjacks are a long way out of the playoff picture.
At some point they’re going to have to win a few games in a row to get back into contention.
But that’s been a problem for the Jacks all season. They have only one winning streak – five straight games in November. Otherwise the wins and losses have alternated, with a few more of the latter.
That trend continued on Saturday, when the Lumberjacks followed Friday’s come-from behind victory over Madison with a 5-2 loss to the Capitols in front of 2,457 fans at L.C. Walker Arena.
The loss left Muskegon with a 17-20-5 record, good for eighth place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference and 14 points out of the final playoff spot.
They have now lost three of their last four games and are 5-11-1 since Jan. 1.
Consecutive wins have not been the Jacks’ only problem. They’ve struggled in their own building all season, and Saturday’s loss left their home ice record at 9-11-1.
“We got to once again get some consistency in net,” said Lumberjacks Coach Todd Krygier, who used both of his goalies – Devin Cooley and Joey Daccord – during the game. “We got to also get consistency on defense and our role players got to a lot better.
“The fact of the matter is we are not a good team unless our top players compete.
“I am trying to keep a cool head (talking about the lack of consistency) and continue to coach this team but the guys need to get their jobs done.”
The Lumberjacks opened the scoring at 15:16 of the first period on a goal from Rem Pitlick. Matej Paulovic and Graham Lillibridge assisted on the tally.
Madison responded with a power play goal from Ryan Lohin at the 17:46 mark of the first period.
The Capitols took the lead for good at 19:45 of the first period with a goal from Cooper Watson.
Muskegon pulled Cooley from goal in favor of Daccord after the first period.
Madison increased its lead to 3-1 with a goal from Alexandre Payusov at 6:08 of the second period.
The Lumberjacks cut their deficit to 3-2 with a power play goal from Dante Palecco at 11:17 of the second period. Paulovic and Collin Adams assisted.
The Capitols regained their two-goal advantage with a goal from Sam McCormick 15:51 into the second period.
Madison added a short-handed tally from Lohin at the 5:15 mark of the third period to give the Capitols their final margin of victory.
Muskegon outshot Madison 34-32.