By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – Home sweet home just hasn’t been that sweet for the Muskegon Lumberjacks so far this season.
The Jacks trailed after one period, rallied to take a one-goal lead, fell behind again, then tied the score late in the third period.
But Youngstown’s Zach Metsa settled with issue with a goal 2:42 into the overtime period.
The defeat came in front of 4,035 fans, the Jacks’ biggest home crowd of the season.
“It’s early in the year, and we’re trying to get these guys to believe in themselves and learn what it takes, night after night,” said Lumberjacks Coach John LaFontaine. “It’s a tough league and there are no easy games.
“You make your breaks in the game. We had a lot of chances to take a bigger lead when we were up 2-1 and we didn’t. The effort is there. We just have to execute.”
Muskegon fell to 4-5-2 on the season. The Jacks came into a game in a three-way tie for last place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference with Youngstown and Dubuque.
Youngstown got two points in the standings for beating Muskegon, the Jacks got one point for playing to a regulation tie, and Dubuque was winning as of this writing.
The Jacks will have a rematch with Youngstown on Sunday at home at 3:15 p.m.
The Lumberjacks may have lost on Saturday, but at least they can say they put up a tough fight.
They feel behind at 17:46 of the first period when Youngstown’s Curtis Hall scored while his team enjoyed a two-man power play advantage.
The Jacks tied the score 1-1 at 15:31 of the second period when Bobby Kaiser spun around and ripped a shot from the left faceoff circle past Youngstown goalie Ivan Prosvetov. It was his first goal of the season.
Corey Cliffton, playing his first game with the Jacks, assisted on the goal.
Muskegon pulled ahead about two minutes later when Emilio Pettersen also scored his first goal of the year, with assists from Blake Evennau and Wyatt Bongiovanni.
Youngstown retook the lead with third period goals from Steve Holtz and Chase Gresack at 8:59 and 10:27, respectively.
The Jacks evened the score at 3-3 with just 2:48 left in regulation when Vincent de May broke in alone on the Youngstown goal and got it past Prosvetov.
Then Metsa got his OT goal, stealing the win for Youngstown.
The Lumberjacks outshot the Phantoms 34-31. Muskegon goalie Adam Brizgala took the loss.